The Press Should Stop Apologizing

By Lamb, Chris | Editor & Publisher, January 19, 1991 | Go to article overview

The Press Should Stop Apologizing


Lamb, Chris, Editor & Publisher


The press should stop apologizing

The Philadelphia Inquirer made a mistake. The newspaper published an editorial on Dec. 12 that was assailed as racist because it linked a new contraceptive device with efforts to reverse poverty. Then on Dec. 23, it apologized for the earlier editorial (E&P, Jan. 12).

The apology was a mistake.

A free press means never having to say you are sorry - that you should never have to apologize submissively for any opinion on a public issue. The Inquirer's editors felt they had to apologize to calm a sea of dissent over the expression of an opinion that was not perhaps culturally sensitive or politically fashionable.

Are only culturally sensitive views permissible on our editorial pages now? We do not have a First Amendment so that we can say and write what is politically fashionable. We have a First Amendment so that we can express contradictory opinions, so the free exchange of ideas is not just encouraged but ensured.

The Inquirer admitted it was wrong after it was charged with racism.

"I think maybe the best thing to say about it now is it is an apology and it's a change of position," said the Inquirer's editor, Maxwell E.P. King

Was it a change of position or acquiescence? In either case, the reason was not good enough. Will they now apologize whenever they have second thoughts about an issue or only after they are called racist or whenever an editorial elicits an angry response of some kind? Aren't editorials supposed to provoke discussion? Doesn't a certain amount of criticism come with the territory?

Was it a mistake to write an editorial on the rising number of black children living in poverty? It is a legitimate social issue. It would be irresponsible to ignore it.

Was it wrong to say, as the Dec. 12 editorial did, "The main reason more black children are living in poverty is that the people having the most children are the ones least capable of supporting them"?

Was it wrong to suggest that better prenatal care and better schools are not a panacea?

Was it wrong to say, "Why not make a major effort to reduce the number of children, of any race, born into such circumstances?"

Was it wrong, as the editorial did, to offer, by choice, to women living in poverty, Norplant, a contraceptive that can keep a woman from getting pregnant for five years?

Maybe it was wrong, but right and wrong are irrelevant here. In a democracy, one should be just as free to be wrong as he is to be right. What is the point of having free speech when you are allowed only to be right? If an opinion is wrong, then the answer is more opinions, not a white flag and an apology.

Three hundred-fifty years ago, John Milton wrote. "Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter."

What was gained by apology? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Press Should Stop Apologizing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.