This happened a week ago, and I’m still fuming.
First, we have a new editor at my publication. He came in, asked very little and proceeded to fuck up; i.e., he changed text in certain stories to be “cleaner” – stories ended up to be “cleaner” but also wrong…that kind of thing.
I had written a feature on an organization that helps people with Cerebral Palsy and traumtic brain injuries. Basically, they focus on what the participants in their program can do and place very little emphasis on the physical limitations.
When I spoke to the woman I interviewed, she repeatedly expressed concern about making sure that she was getting across the spirit of the program – “it focuses on their achievements, things they want to do and how we help them get there…not the fact that they need help using the bathroom, etc.”
I assured her that I understood her concerns, said I thought the program sounded great and that she shouldn’t worry. I work for a small, community-focused newspaper, after all.
I send our photographer out to take photos. No problem.
I look at the proof last week, and on the front page is my story with accompanying photo, which is of one of the participants being helped by an attendent. She is laying on her back and her head is rolling to the side and her tongue is slightly hanging out of her mouth. It’s not flattering at all and not a picture I’d want to see of one of my relatives on the front page of a paper.
I tell my new editor that the photo is inappropriate.
He tells me, “It tells the story!”
I tell him, “It doesn’t tell the story! In fact, it tells the exact opposite of the story! The story is that the program focuses on achievements and the picture is basically reinforcing the stereotype that they’re trying to break down!”
He disagrees and blows me off. I call his boss and express my objection. She thanks me, says she’ll look at it, but lets it run.
I’ve also come to find out that the photographer was in the process of trashing the picture when new editor saw it and tagged it for the front page. Photographer said that he had a lot of other pics that could have run showing participants working on computers and doing other activities.
Basically, I feel like I can’t trust him. Trust me when I say that this is not a tabloid type paper that’s failing. He was not brought in to spice anything up – he seems to be a tasteless control freak, and I think I have a major problem with him screwing with stuff when my name is on the story.
Am I wrong? Am I right? Thoughts? Advice?