May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. This is my story of censorship.
I am a freelance writer and, like many other freelancers, I value a regular gig. So when a regular gig goes south and I’m faced with the decision of whether or not to take my pen and go write someplace else, it’s not a decision I make lightly. May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, and it was about this time last year that I butted heads with and severed ties with the publication that I had come to rely on for a steady stream of work.
I write for parenting publications and I was very proud of the fact that I wrote award-winning features for a regional parenting publication in my city. For this publication, I also wrote a monthly blog and had a modest following. My relationship with the editor was stellar and we had known one another and worked together for over 15 years.
My editor was not the problem. No. It was higher up. The publisher. An email conversation with the publisher on how to monetize my blog prompted the publisher to look at my blog (apparently for the first time) and she began yanking the blogs she disagreed with politically. I thought that I had painstakingly kept politics out of my work. I always took the humanitarian viewpoint and how it relates to parenting while never mentioning political figures or engaging in finger-pointing.
I was shocked.
Blogs are modern columns. My monthly blog was rooted in opinion and personal experience. The editor agreed with me. The publisher did not. She expected me to conform. She trumped her own editor’s judgement because of her personally held views. Columnists, cartoonists, bloggers, and other opinion writers should be able to engage in conversation about world events with readers. Publications should offer opposing views in their opinion sections, not require their contributors to align themselves with the publication leadership’s way of thinking.
In the end, the publisher went though the history of my blog and deleted anything she deemed “political” (read — disagreed with). That is when I told her to delete the whole thing. You can’t cherry-pick. You either value my opinion and the community conversation it prompts or you don’t. The publication owns the reported features they commissioned me to write. I own my opinions and the blog…