Ransom Notes

By ADAM REILLY  |  February 12, 2010

"Not very well," Rohde admitted. A minute later, he added: "Forty organizations can agree they're not going to write about the kidnapping of one American journalist. But they are going to write about suicide bombings that create this distorted view of what it's like in Kabul or Baghdad. You're absolutely right. I don't have a good answer about where you draw the line."

No easy answers
Earlier in his remarks, Rohde had endorsed the Times' new, official policy regarding kidnapping coverage: the paper now contacts families and employers of victims to ask whether they want the incident publicized, and follows their wishes. But in response to the next questioner — who noted that the Canadian media had recently suppressed news of a journalist's abduction but reported the kidnapping of a Canadian diplomat, despite the government's pleas for silence — Rohde acknowledged that this deferential approach has its limits.

"It's difficult," Rohde mused, the expression on his face suggesting both deep thought and genuine uncertainty. "What if the American ambassador in Afghanistan is kidnapped and the government tells the New York Times, 'We don't want you to publicize it'? . . . It's a slippery slope."

For a Q-and-A with Rohde, visit the "Don't Quote Me" blog at thePhoenix.com/dontquoteme. Adam Reilly can be reached at areilly@phx.com.

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