Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews.com was presented the 2010 National Award by REAL Women at its annual national conference on April 17 in North Bay, Ont. REAL Women national president Cecilia Forsyth explained that the award signifies that the recipient individual or organization has made an exemplary contribution to society. Nominees are expected to demonstrate “honesty, integrity and responsibility; respect for the traditional family unit in society; support for the basic right to life of all human beings; and Judaeo-Christian values.” The award was presented to LifeSiteNews co-founder and editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen who accepted the award on behalf of co-founder Steve Jalsevac and LSN’s team of writers, editors, marketers, fundraisers and technical staff. Interim editor Paul Tuns interviewed Westen about the award, the impact of LifeSiteNews.com and its future.
The Interim: Congratulations on receiving your REAL Women National Award. Was your reaction to LifeSiteNews.com by honoured in this way?
John-Henry Westen: I was very grateful and happy especially for the faithful and talented young people who work for LifeSiteNews. All the bashing and slander we’ve received of late even from those who should be supporting us, hurts morale and this is a much needed counterweight. We have been accused of doing the “work of Satan” and being part of “the far right wing fringe element of North American society.”
TI: Why is LifeSiteNews.com so important to getting the pro-life message out in 2010?
JHW: With online media exploding, the voice for life and family has a long-established and professional presence online. LifeSiteNews was the pioneer originally written pro-life daily news service online. Our brand of hard hitting investigative journalism has shone the light of truth into some dark corners of society and has had a very positive effect in cleaning up the mess.
TI: What have been a few of the key contributions to the pro-life movement by LifeSiteNews.com in its 13 years of existence?
JHW: Commencing our online presence in 1997, LifeSiteNews has had many success stories. Apart from inspiring many into pro-life action, some women to reconsider abortion, many to begin and resume their lives of faith, our investigative journalism has had some startling results.
A few years ago for instance we forced the New York Times to correct itself on a major story in which they slandered El Salvador. In a story sarcastically titled “ProLife Nation” NYT reporter Jack Hitt interviewed a woman in prison in the country who claimed she was sentenced to in jail for aborting a child. In fact, court documented forensic evidence, showed the child was born live and strangled. LifeSiteNews published a story proving the NYT story false, including the publication of the court transcripts.
The public editor at the Times called to confirm the documents were legit, and once he was convinced he demanded the Times editors to correct the story. They refused. He then published in the pages of the paper the truth as exposed by LifeSiteNews. Talk radio and television went wild with the story and after about a week, the Times was forced to clarify.
The best part of the story was not that however. It was that in El Salvador the whole nation was confirmed and strengthened in their pro-life sentiment. The story made the front page of their national newspapers three days running.
A more recent success came when Pope Benedict XVI, relying on information from LifeSiteNews, ordered the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome to publish a clarification in the Vatican newspaper over a case of abortion in Brazil. A Vatican Archbishop had erroneously written that his brother Archbishop in Brazil did not act properly in announcing an excommunication of those involved in the abortion of twins carried by a nine-year-old rape victim. The article had made it seem like the Church had altered it’s stance on abortion in hard circumstances. LifeSiteNews covered the matter in great depth and with our information members of the Pontifical Academy for Life were able to insist that the Pope act to rectify the situation.
TI: Of course you are not going to rest on LSN’s laurels? What do you see as the future of the pro-life news website in the next 3-5 years?
JHW: In some ways the answer to that is “God only knows.” Online communications is developing at an unbelievable rate and we have a ways to go to advance to the current level. In addition to being on the web and email, we’re on facebook, twitter, rss, on mobile platforms and more. We’re likely to move into audio and video, as we’ve already begun in that area. But we’re open to new developments and more than that we’re open to where the Holy Spirit leads.
We are at the service of the pro-life movement and I hope and pray that we serve this great movement well. This is the greatest human rights battle the world has ever known and we’re proud to be fighting for truth and for life.