Magazine article The Quill

Avoiding Public Panic

Magazine article The Quill

Avoiding Public Panic

Article excerpt

This is the 13th in a series of case studies exploring how top media managers make difficult decisions.

Self-censorship is as old as journalism itself. At one time or another, almost all journalists have held back, not pursued a story, not included a relevant fact, or softened a story's angle.

In 2000, the Pew Research Center for the People and The Press polled journalists and found that 25 percent of them had avoided legitimate stories. Pressure from advertisers or management was the most likely cause cited.

But journalists who censor themselves are not always as overt as media managers directly telling editors and writers what they can and cannot report. Self-censorship is more pervasive and subtle - an exercise in reading between the lines. These preemptive decisions, often made in silence, are far more common and potentially more important.

In some cases, self-censorship is important - even expected. …

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