Monday, April 1, 2013

So Here's How It Should Have Read in the First Place

The New York Times, having stirred outrage in its obituary of scientist/inventor Yvonne Brill, quietly amended the obituary for its archives in response to comments by readers and media watchdogs.  Brill, inventor of a propulsion technology in wide use today, was described in the obit's first line as an inventor of "a mean stroganoff" -- not of the system she devised that keeps satellites in orbit.  Many readers felt that the early emphasis in the article on her domestic abilities took away from her considerable professional achievements, and failed the test of comparability with a hypothetical obituary of a male scientist. Would such an obit, of a groundbreaking inventor, lead off with the beautiful results of his lawn mowing? You can see the edits made to the NYT's article on Brill here, thanks to NewsDiffs, which tracks how articles are modified by their editors.

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