Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Lieu of Newspapers, Use Craigslist?

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE censored a paid obit that ran in the paper.

The family of Ken Swanborn submitted an obit with the final line, "In lieu of flowers, please vote Democratic."

The paper refused to run that line. A woman on the paper's paid-death-notice desk told the Chicago Reader, "If it's considered discriminatory or offensive, they take the line out."

Do they have the right to do that?


bethany barton said...

I definitely think they have the right to omit that. After all, its their publication, they can do whatever the hell they want. Whether they should or shouldn't is another question. Honestly, I find it pretty funny... especially since he was a stand-up comedian.

Geo said...

What if, instead of the political statement, it was an incorrect statement the family wanted in the obit?

What if the family said, in this obit, we're calling him Admiral Skywalker, a Jedi training school graduate who performed as a professional tap dancer and MTV veejay?

It wouldn't be offensive (unless you are a tap dancing jedi). Does the newspaper then have a responsibility to make sure that even paid info is factual?

- George (the teacher)

Alexa Ewton said...

I think that the final line is hilarious. Even though the newspaper should do whatever they want, it may also be crossing the line of free speech. If these people paid for the obit to go in the paper, every word should be put in there despite there opinion. The paper doesnt have to agree on everything that is put in there, i feel like by them not putting it in, there they are contradicting the first amendment.

Megan McCue Journalism said...

I think if they put anything in the newspaper that people paid for then people could say anything. There has to be some kind of order and limits of what is appropriate. I feel like allowing that line to run would almost make the paper seem biased toward democratic voting, even though someone else wrote it-- everything you read in the paper you credit to the publication.

Geo said...

So news outlets are allowed to censor people?

What about the 1st amendment ... freedom of speech?

- George (the teacher)

Dan Zubrzycki said...

Personally I don't believe they have a right to do that. Just as no one has to send flowers to the family, not one HAS to vote Democratic. It was a post-mortum display of beliefs and is being made into a larger deal than it has to be. What if someone died and wrote 'in lieu of flowers, read "what is enlightenment" or some "Mein Kampf" or anything that might change the way you think? Would they not be allowed to say that? This person is dead, if they have something radical they'd like to get across i think we can let it slide.

najee clancy said...

I feel that people should be able to put anything they want in a loved one's obit. Although the tap dancing jedi comment may not be necessarily true, it doesn't offend anyone so they should have no problem adding it in. Now, if something prejudice or racist in any way were to try and be published, then I think they have the right to omit that. But in this case, I dont think it was necessary, since people voice and display their political views constantly in mainstream media and in everyday life.

Geo said...

Who decides what is considered racist or prejudiced? Who decides what is offensive?

Do you want to leave that decision up to the journalist/ editor who has their own personal background and baggage?

- George (the teacher)

elise bowder said...

The obit was paid for by the family not by the newspaper; therefore, i think that the newspaper did not have the right to remove that statement.

I was thinking the same thing as najee clancy - it was not a racist or discriminatory comment so it seems okay to me. but then again, george brings up a good point - who decides what is racist or discriminatory?

either way the statement of "vote democrat" was just a suggestion. he did not put the other party down and say "republicans suck so vote democrat." he's a dead comedian who wanted a funny line in his obit, cut him break.

Anonymous said...

I think the paper just went about it the wrong way. If someone paid to have an obituary, then once the editor ran across this statement, and decided to omit it... the family paying for the obit should have been notified. That way the family would have the option to say yay or nay and the paper still covered their butts.
Nikki Allen (Student Jour1111)

jessica lista said...

i feel that with the paper taking the line out of the obit goes against the first ammendment. We are entitled to freedom of speech and they did pay to have their obit in the paper. I think if thats what they wanted to say, then thats what should be printed

summergirl said...

i think they should have left it in. It wasn't something offensive. It was just their point of view. And they payed to have it in there. It doesn't mean the paper supports it. Just like when obits say "In lieu of flowers, please give to such and such charity". The paper doesn't have to support the charity, it's just reflecting the family's wishes