Comment is free – but how free?

The Guardian responds to bad press surrounding their decision to publish a transript of Osama bin Laden’s latest tape on the comment pages.

There was, however, a vigorous discussion inside the paper, at the editor’s morning conference on the day of publication, with several people speaking strongly against the decision to carry the extract on the comment pages.

I did not attend the editor’s conference. However, the debate seemed to me one worth continuing. Later that day I sent to all Guardian journalists and editorial support staff an email inviting replies to these questions: “1 Was the Guardian right to run the piece? 2 Was it right to run it on a comment page? 3 If you say yes to 2, was it adequately introduced/presented?”