Kudos to the AP for this one.
Memo sent to AP staff
From: Kent, Tom
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2010 11:53 AM
Subject: Standards Center guidance: Planned Sept. 11 Quran burning
As you know, a group known as the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has announced that it intends to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.
In the runup to this event, we’ve seen a rush of stories, photos and video from points around the world. Let’s keep our coverage in proportion. Although many are speculating on the effect the Quran burning could conceivably have, at the moment it’s a proposal by a tiny group that may or may not happen.
We plan ONE main spot story on this issue a day. The News Center will coordinate where this story will originate from. Routine spot news — for instance, comments about the plan by political or other public figures — should be funneled to the point handling the main story. We should avoid a profusion of separates beyond what any newspaper, website or broadcaster would actually use. This includes stories, photos, audio and video that repeatedly make the same point, for or against the burning. Consult the News Center if you have questions on this.
The concept of this planned event is offensive to many Muslims worldwide. National leaders and spokesmen for other religious denominations have also found the plan repugnant.
Should the event happen on Saturday, the AP will not distribute images or audio that specifically show Qurans being burned, and will not provide detailed text descriptions of the burning. With the exception of these specific images and descriptions, we expect to cover the Gainesville event, in all media, placing the actions of this group of about 50 people in a clear and balanced context.
AP policy is not to provide coverage of events that are gratuitously manufactured to provoke and offend. In the past, AP has declined to provide images of cartoons mocking Islam and Jews. AP has often declined to provide images, audio or detailed descriptions of particularly bloody or grisly scenes, such as the sounds and moments of beheadings and shootings, displays of severed heads on pikes and images of hostages who are displayed by hostage-holders in an effort to intimidate their adversaries and advance their cause. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
From time to time, a member or customer will insist that we distribute offensive material to them so they can make the decision about whether or not to publish it. We’ve had to make clear that a decision to distribute, for us, is the same as a decision to publish for them. We must adhere to our own standards.