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STAFF EDITORIAL: Why you may never see a picture of the Twin Towers burning on our front page

For last week’s issue, The Campanil made a tough decision:  how to give a nod to the ten-year anniversary of 9/11.  Tensions in the newsroom ran high, and some of us did not even feel a “special page” on the back of the issue was appropriate.

The “coverage” of the 9/11 ten year-anniversary issue is one most news publications grappled with last week.  Looking at the covers of both The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle from the 11th, we feel that two possible avenues are represented — The New York Times on the more tasteful side, with a photo of the 9/11 memorial, focused on the names engraved on their front page.  The Chronicle was, perhaps, less thoughtful with the infamous picture of the Twin Towers burning on their cover.

We desperately wanted to avoid reinforcing oppressive “America The Great”-type sentiment by featuring articles about “terrorists” and further contributing to “Islamophobia” and fear-based politics.

Islamophobia is a term which refers to prejudice against those who are practicing Muslims or those who are perceived as possibly being Muslim (read: those who are racially profiled as such because appearing to be of Middle Eastern or Arab descent).  Certainly this group has always experienced prejudice in the US, but sensational journalism in the aftermath of 9/11 led to heightened racial profiling and proliferation of irrational hatred and fear.

Also, we tried to steer clear of the kind of layout Yahoo’s homepage boasted, which showcased articles like “Unforgettable 9/11 photos”  and “Why Football Matters on 9/11” followed with an article about George Clooney and his new girlfriend.  The spread felt disingenuous, to say the least.

At the Campanil, we strive to produce a paper Mills can be proud of — in other words, we promise not to put a picture of something blowing up on the front page unless it’s absolutely appropriate — and we promise it won’t be next to paparazzi pictures of George Clooney.