Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 4. 1966.
Anglican paper libels Salient
Anglican paper libels Salient
As Some readers Will be aware, this newspaper was recently attacked by the Anglican newspaper, Church and People.
In the course of a bitter article which purported to deal with an article in Salient I (on the issues arising from the case of Mrs. Madalyn Murry) very serious accusations were levelled against Salient and its editorial control. These allegations include:
• "This article is entirely irresponsible."
• "This is journalism at its worst."
• "It is entirely unethical."
• "This (is a) journalistic sin."
• (The editor) "has the responsibility for satisfying himself that it complies with the ethics of journalism."
These statements—and others in the article—seem to be aimed at destroying any reputation which Salient may have earned for its journalism. They verge on defamation, and the malice which Church and People holds towards Salient is painfully evident. By contrast Salient deleted a number of comments from the article which might have been construed as anti-Christian.
It is apparent that the average reader of Church and People will draw the following conclusions from the article:
• That Salient is engaged in promoting atheist opinions.
• That Salient is irresponsible and of a very low journalistic standard.
• That the editor is not properly conducting the paper.
To accuse an editor of irresponsibility and a failure to comply with the ethics of journalism is strong talk. We wish that we could say that these comments were made in the spirit of charity one would expect to find in a church paper.
Rather, they seem to have been made in a deliberate attempt to promote controversy.
Unlike most papers, Salient prominently prints in each issue the identity of its editorial staff, and the means of getting in touch with them.
If Church and People had wanted to criticise the article, it would have been common journalistic practice to contact the source of the article for additional information. This was not done.
Rather, Church and People chose to attack Salient in a way which is calculated to permanently prejudice persons not acquainted with Salient.
Our readers will know that the case of Madalyn Murry which we stated, has received wide publicity in mass-circulation magazines. The basic facts are now common knowledge and have been subject to public scrutiny long enough to be established.
Because of this we did not feel it necessary to state additional references. The article was written—as our readers apparently perceived—in order to consider the issues which arise, assuming the facts to be correct.
We feel that these issues are important, just as we feel that religion is an important topic to students. We believe that Mrs. Murry's case raises questions as basic as any which our religious staff have posed through this past year.
Church and People, stung by the issues, has fallen back on trying to destroy our readers' faith in our sincerity. We will not join this childish game. This paper has a commitment to the ethics of journalism which will not be abandoned for the artificial controversies which this Anglican newspaper seeks.—H. B. R.