Thursday, February 10, 2005

Eden Cast Out

The New York Observer has the full story [no longer available at their website . . . link removed until I can find a cached version] of Dawn Eden's firing from the New York Post, officially for blogging on company time, but coming right after an incident where she was criticized for "inserting a pro-life viewpoint" into an article she was copyediting. Dawn corrects a few of the story's errors at her own blog, but otherwise says

"But overall, I'm elated. Gurley set out to draw a portrait that would--as with all his work--go deeper than the average personality profile, and he's unquestionably succeeded."

So what happened? Here's an excerpt from the Observer piece.

Ms. Eden was given a story by Post reporter Susan Edelman to copy-edit. The story was about women with terminal cancer who want to have babies: Through in-vitro fertilization, multiple embryos are fertilized and implanted one at a time until as many as 12 survive.

According to Ms. Eden, she was repelled by what she interpreted as a "cavalier" attitude about the embryos in Ms. Edelman’s story: "Treating them as a manufactured commodity that don’t have significance as human life," Ms. Eden said. (Ms. Edelman declined to comment when reached by The Observer.)

"I got choked up," Ms. Eden said. "How are people going to ever understand the complex issues involved here, if the story they’re reading reduces it to ‘Oh, isn’t this nice? We can just make lots of embryos and not worry about whether they live or die.’"

Ms. Eden read a line in the draft of the story: "Experts have ethical qualms about this ‘Russian roulette’ path to parenthood." She saw her opportunity: She added a phrase: " … which, when in-vitro fertilization is involved, routinely results in the destruction of embryos." And where Ms. Edelman had written that one woman had three embryos implanted "and two took," Ms. Eden changed that to read: "One died. Two took."

Ms. Eden said she thought she was performing a service for the reader, since she believed that the Post had been "notoriously oblivious" to the nuances involving embryonic life.

After publication of the article, Eden wrote to Susan Edelman, apologizing for what she'd done, and calling her actions "unwarranted and wrong." Edelman wrote back, using the word "sabotage" to describe the editing, and calling Eden "unprofessional" and "a disgrace."

Then the Post editors discovered Ms. Eden's blog, and found it "very disturbing." Officially, Eden was fired for blogging on company time. Unofficially? . . .

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we don’t need New York readers also thinking it’s a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."

"I don’t recall saying that," said Mr. Gross. "But I can’t swear that I didn’t. I mean, there’s no question people think we’re conservative." He added that he did caution her to cool it a bit in the future.

There was another chat with Mr. Gross after Ms. Eden resisted working on an article about a murdered porn star. She’d made it clear that she was disgusted with the cheerful, lurid commentary.

So according to Eden, the Post found her viewpoint problematic prior to this latest incident.

We may never know the true motives behind her firing -- whether it was merely for blogging on company time, or for holding a viewpoint that the editors found incompatible with their own.

But the profile of Ms. Eden is, indeed, a good look at a modern Christian who shatters the usual stereotypes.

(Hat tip: GetReligion)


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