Andrew Beaujon, former contributor to Save Richmond and current managing editor of Washington City Paper, got in touch with us and asked us to link to his recent commentary on Style Weekly’s firing of reporter Chris Dovi over language used in an email accidentally sent to a PR rep.
Andrew Beaujon, former contributor to Save Richmond and current managing editor of Washington City Paper, got in touch with us and asked us to link to his recent commentary on Style Weekly’s firing of reporter Chris Dovi over language used in an email accidentally sent to a PR rep. For specifics on that situation, check out Mark Holmberg’s coverage on WTVR.
Since this is the op/ed section, it only seemed fitting to share Beaujon’s thoughts. Here’s an excerpt. Click through to read the whole story.
This is where the bullshit gets a little thick for me. (And, full disclosure, both I and my wife freelanced for Style when we lived in Richmond, so this hits a little close to home. I don’t know Dovi, but I tweeted this morning that I thought his firing was stupid.) In his three years at Style, Dovi’s pursued story after story about Richmond’s poor treatment of its most helpless citizens, from the city jail saving money by cutting 80 percent of its spending on medications for mental health and AIDS, to the city schools botching the procurement process for ADA-compliant construction, to this piece about Richmond schools’ absurd treatment of “problem students.”
When I first called him, Roop declined to comment beyond the note on Style’s Web site. “I just can’t talk to you,” he said, referring me several times to the statement. In a follow-up voicemail, he says, “We thought this was an important enough issue to involve several levels of management, and they were all involved in the decision. So no, it wasn’t my decision alone, but I do support the decision.”
Weeks, the motivational speaker, says Dovi’s language in the e-mail, which Goldman forwarded him yesterday, “reinforced the notion to me that there’s a culture set in place at Style Weekly.”
“No one in their right mind,” he says, “would forward that to any staff member unless you were good and sure that they were in agreement with that mentality.”
But what mentality is that, exactly? Prejudice against people of color, sure, we’ve all heard that. Religion—well, that’s pretty obvious. But who exactly is prejudiced against the blind? Weeks says he’s experienced “prejudices in the public schools system growing up,” as well as at work, and that he’s been around “people who’ve said things that were downgrading” about his blindness. And there’s no question that from building design to street furniture to crossing signals to our currency, America is miles behind where it needs to be as a society accessible to people with disabilities. But there’s a huge difference between the sting of thoughtless planning and the hurt felt by someone left to die in a jail cell because the city medication he required to live looked like a cuttable budget line to a reptilian public servant. I’ll concede the possibility that there’s someone, somewhere, who possesses the Herculean asshole-ness required to actually hate blind people. Dovi’s words were coarse (though not intended for the dainty sensibilities of someone outside a newsroom). Were they insensitive? Arguably. Were they evidence that he intended to not write about someone because he hates people with disabilities? Faced with a PR man’s bold new redefinition of the word discrimination, Roop and Waran decided to assuage an awkward situation by cutting off a talented reporter at the knees.