Recently, some news organisations (Le Monde linking to this blog in the Washington Post) mention that New York Times, AP, CNN, MSNBC, The Telegraph (and apparently other news groups) have "shunned" images that contained certain depictions that could have been construed as offensive by some followers of a certain religion.

The same WP blog presented the New York Times' explanation:

Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities. After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story.

Does the New York Time have this explicit policy?

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    I'm trying to understand the question. It seems to be as simple as "Does the Times have a policy, as quoted by Buzzfeed citing a spokesperson, in line with this quote: [...]?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 11:00
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    There's probably a good question here but it needs work. "newsworthy material" will never work, as it's evidently subjective (if they don't publish it, they feel it's not newsworthy, literally). The specific list of which news groups needs to be specified. "L'Avvenire", newspaper of the Catholic Church, will obviously censor whatever offends their Catholic sensibility, but what does this prove? Given the delicate nature of this topic, I'm putting this on hold until it's fixed.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 11:10
  • @Oddthinking the quote comes from a blog on the opinion section of the Washington Post. The Buzzfeed just gave examples but I didnt check their veracity (and a lot seem from Twitter). Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 11:15
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    @Sklivvz I'm okay with the modifications. If it'll release the question, even better. I hope it will still remain a noteworthy item. Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 13:31
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    I'm just confused here as to what really is being asked: the answer seems to be a clear "yes", because they did in fact refuse to publish the material and they appear to have clearly said why (as reported and commentated on by many sources). Are you asking if that's why they really did it (and not because they were afraid of a violent attack)? Or are you asking if they've behave similarly in the past, stated this policy explicitly somewhere, or published this editorial guideline anywhere? It seems to just be a judgement call by the editor, so I'm really not sure what's at question.
    – BrianH
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


The reason why the OP posted was, "Since I could not find the source of this statement", and the OP only wants to know whether the policy exists.

Here's a quote from a more recent article, published by the New York Times:

Charlie Hebdo’s Defiant Muhammad Cover Fuels Debate on Free Speech

Some American newspapers, including The New York Times, did not reproduce the Charlie Hedbo cartoons that mocked Islam. The Times called the decision an editorial judgment that reflected its standards for content that is deemed offensive and gratuitous.

The decision drew criticism from some free-speech advocates who called it cowardly in the face of a terrorist attack, which the newspaper disputed.

“Actually, we have republished some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including a caricature of the head of ISIS, as well as some political cartoons,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities.”

This is exactly the same text as quoted in the OP; what makes this a legitimate answer is:

  • It's attributed (i.e. to "Dean Baquet, executive editor of The Times")
  • It's published on the web site of the NY Times itself (instead of in a blog of the Washington Post)
  • Thank you very much. Did you manage to find the first NYT article that contains this quote. Is it the one from the 13th of January? A quick search on NYT's site reveals one of their blogs that links to Buzzfeed(dated the 8th of Jan). Im just curious because I'm wondering if it's my fault for not finding the quote. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:26
  • The Washington Post blog says, "[...] That’s from an official statement provided to the Erik Wemple Blog": so I guess there wasn't a "first NYT article", and instead Erik Wemple contacted the NYT and asked them for <strike>a comment</strike> an official statement.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:31
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    I'm very happy with your answer because it links to NYT and to a name. Which was my main focus. The fact that the same phrase appears in different places might indicate that it is part of some written internal guideline and not a phrase spoken on the fly. Thank you for your time and concern. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:35
  • Maybe it is a written internal guideline, but the reason why they match is because the article is reporting (i.e. quoting) the statement, so it could (theoretically) also just be repeating (i.e. quoting) a phrase spoken on the fly. As 'executive editor' (the highest-ranking position in the paper's newsroom) it is presumably Dean Baquet's prerogative to define/specify/communicate editorial policy.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:43

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