Friday, May 19, 2017

Ottawa Citizen agrees to change policy regarding pro-life letters

I think it's time we insist that newspapers use the word "pro-life" to describe us. Newspapers usually call us "anti-abortion". I took issue with this policy last week when I wrote a letter to the Ottawa Citizen after they changed a letter I wrote where I used "pro-life" to "anti-abortion"

I then contacted the Citizen and explained that I had a big problem with this change.

Then ensued a correspondence between myself and Christina Spencer, the editorial pages editor. She said they would review their policy of using the word "anti-abortion" instead of pro-life" after I explained how unfair this policy was to us, since we call ourselves "pro-life". And that, just like how editors call themselves editors and not "word-changers", we like to be called "pro-life" and not "anti-abortion".

In putting forth our position on calling ourselves "pro-life" I then explained:
"Cardinal Collins never used the word abortion in his homily. He used the words "Sanctity of Life", Gift of Life", "Cause of Life", "March for Life", etc. He also spoke about euthanasia and assisted suicide: our view is much broader than anti-abortion, it is about the sanctity of ALL life: 
"anti-abortion" is not what I wrote and definitely not what I meant. If it is the Citizens policy to use that word instead of the word we use ourselves--and the word I always use--the Citizen is manipulating my/our message. 
For someone to read my letter as it stands, who knows little or nothing about life issues, will believe that I/we call ourselves "anti-abortion" when this is simply untrue, misleading to readers, and unfair to us. 
Surely it is not the Citizen's goal to mislead/misrepresent their readers/letter writers? 
...another argument is this: It is one thing for the OC to use the word "anti-abortion" in articles written by staff members (and I don't agree with this either), but it is another thing entirely to change a letter that I have written to use the word "anti-abortion", when clearly the letter should be in my voice, not in the voice of the OC. And the same goes for Cardinal Collins: I was writing about what he said, it wasn't OC staff writing about what he said."
The Citizen has now agreed that:
"letter-writers should be given their own voices as much as possible, regardless of our other style protocols around the issue. As a result, I’ve gone in to our web file and updated your letter to use the term “pro life” where you used it."
I think this is very good news for us at the Ottawa Citizen. Now we need to educate other newspapers in Canada where this policy is practiced.

My letter with the word "pro-life" put back in.

5 comments:

  1. The true is the TRUE no one should change it Good for you Patricia --Please note Ottawa Radio stations --and Ottawa City Hall
    A Flag raising March for Life --Pro Life Warrior

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  2. That was the right decision. They changed the meaning of your letter, and shouldn't apply house style to letters. Good job, Citizen.

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  3. Great job, thanks for your persistence. It may look like a small change, but it will have a ripple effect on readers. Thank you again.

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