Annapolis Capital Editor Tries to Apologize for 'Mama and Mommy' Article, Coworkers Scuttle Column

Poynter Institute's Jim Romenesko wrote yesterday about how the editor of the Annapolis Capital sought to apologize to readers for a gauzy article about a lesbian couple that ran on Mother's Day.

Only his colleagues in the newsroom pressured him not to publish it, at least not in his original draft form:


Capital editor and publisher Tom Marquardt addressed the controversy in a column — running the story on Mother’s Day was a mistake, he said — but his piece was spiked after some staffers objected.


Here are a few passages from the draft that Marquardt circulated in the newsroom:


There is an old saying in journalism that, adjusted for modern times, goes something like this: Architects cover up their mistakes with vines, attorneys send theirs to jail, businesses write them off, and doctors put them 6 feet under. But a newspaper publishes its mistakes for all to see. And that we did on May 8 with a Mother’s Day story on a lesbian couple raising two baby boys born to them through artificial insemination. The reaction among our readers was swift and damning.


In previous years we have written about single moms, poor moms, foster moms and handicapped moms — as well as the traditional moms with big families and heavy workloads. This year was different but difference is not what our readers wanted on a day when dad and kids shower love on the family matriarch.


Unfortunately for us, we lost sight of what the readers want to read: feel good stories about people who reflect their values. Newspapers need to mirror its readers — all of them perhaps, but inclusion not at the exception of the majority.




Marquardt tells me in an email: “It would be wrong to assume that the column would have run without editing and adjustment — I gave it to the key players seeking feedback, correction and suggestions. I am meeting with the staff in a few minutes and out of that conversation may come reason to write about the subject in a different way. But that particular column will not run.” He also says he wants to make it clear “that my objection is not the story, but the story running on Mother’s Day.”


UPDATE: Marquardt emails: “We had a good, open meeting. The staff suggested I write a column about our internal struggle and I may do that.”

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.