Media silence on Gosnell makes a mockery of robust journalism and has knock-on effects for free speech

Although not widely reported in the mainstream media, the Gosnell infanticide case has been circulating in the blogosphere. If you are unaware of the details, there is a brief outline here.

The media silence has also been documented in the blogosphere. For example, see here, here and here. In the UK, the story was carried by the Daily Mail and Telegraph, limited to a single article by the BBC (which doesn’t appear to have been linked to the homepage and only comes up with an active search on ‘Gosnell’) and ignored altogether by the Independent, Guardian and Times. As to how Christians ought to respond to this, Andy’s Study has made some helpful suggestions.

The media silence on this makes a mockery of robust journalism. It is staggering that papers such as the Guardian will run stories like this without running stories like this. Such reporting hardly supports their advertisement which runs the tagline “the whole picture”.

Worse still is the knock-on effect such journalism has on free speech. Whilst we pay lip service to free speech in this country, we increasingly remove topics from the agenda altogether that are simply not up for discussion. When the media refuse to run particular stories, they encourage this removal of discussion from the public forum and push alternative voices to the fringes. In many cases, these alternative views do not go away altogether but, being pushed out of the mainstream, find other outlets without any robust discussion of the view to hold them to account. In many respects, this makes it far easier for such voices to win people to their cause.

President Obama said in an address to the United Nations ‘…laudable efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech’. Rowan Atkinson said something similar in his support for the Reform Section 5 campaign. He commented:

For me, the best way to increase society’s resistance to insulting or offensive speech is to allow a lot more of it. As with childhood diseases, you can better resist those germs to which you have been exposed… if we want a robust society, we need more robust dialogue and that must include the right to insult or to offend.

However, media refusal to report legitimate stories, even where they do not tie in to their predisposed agenda, have real knock-on effects for free speech, those who may disagree and, consequently, those who agree as well.