Paranoid much? (updated)

criticismThe Newsweek feedback blog notes the Human Rights Campaign has launched an email campaign to thank editor John Meacham for his overall coverage of the same-sex marriage issue:

Yet another deluge . . .

And this time, it's from the other side! I've been yakking on about how many e-mails and letters NEWSWEEK has received in response to our cover story this week. Many came from the American Family Association, which started an e-mail campaign directed at our CEO.

Now, after hearing about the landslide from Lisa Miller herself, the Human Rights Campaign has organized their own stock e-mail that you can send along to our Editor, Jon Meacham (though, trust me, I know he's well aware of the situation). Anyway, check out this page to read about their campaign in response to our cover (oh, how meta!) and if you want to hear the author of the story talking about the feedback we've received, there's a short audio file they've included with Lisa Miller.

Newsweek has got to be happy that, well, people are talking about Newsweek again! It's interesting to note that Newsweek links to the Human Rights Campaign e-mail campaign but didn't link to the American Family Association e-mail campaign in either this post or a previous one that mentioned it.

For that matter, as Terry noted yesterday, blogs are unable to link directly to the "Readback" post dealing with the flood of critical emails (to find it you can go here and then scroll down to the post "Readers, Religion & Gay Marriage") but you can link directly to the post dealing with the Human Rights Campaign campaign.

Why is it easy to link to one and not the other? Why is the HRC campaign linked to but not the American Family Association? I have absolutely no idea what provoked the inconsistency in these editorial decisions.

But I was intrigued that Lisa Miller spoke with the Human Rights Campaign. She is certainly welcome to talk to us here at GetReligion about her journalistic choices and I extend that invitation now.

You can listen to the brief interview here. She basically says that the outcome of Proposition 8 took everyone by surprise, that the aftermath was volatile and vocal, that Newsweek did series of stories before and after and wanted to stay on this important issue. The interviewer notes that editor Jon Meacham basically said to let the emails of opposition come. Miller says:

Oh they've come. We have gotten bombarded with critical emails.There was an e-mail campaign launched earlier this week. Our publisher got something like 20,000 emails the first day. It's been really crazy.

You've seen the blogs. You've seen . . . the religious right is very organized. There is not an outlet on the Christian right that hasn't blogged against me, Newsweek, the editors of the magazine.

Um, the idea that you would have to organize to notice the cover story of a major national news magazine that misrepresents the political and religious views of a majority of Americans is odd, no? And why the name-calling?

It is tremendously difficult to operate in the public square and anyone who writes receives criticism time to time. Certainly the profound disappointment expressed toward Miller is unique but when criticism comes, it's always a good idea to reflect on whether you should have done something differently. Maybe you end up deciding that you did everything correctly. Maybe you learn how to handle things better in the future. But to respond to such a clear outcry from a wide variety of religious believers, secular proponents of traditional marriage, and journalism advocates by labeling it an organized campaign of the "Christian Right" shows a sad lack of introspection that is unbecoming in a religion editor. An emotive defensiveness is not called for in a situation like this.

I've written extensively on this topic and I was alerted to this article by precisely one person: a fellow journalist. I told precisely one person: my husband. Perhaps it would make Miller feel better to think some conspiratorial commission handed out assignments to attack her work, but such a view is paranoid.

I'm sure Miller had the best of intentions with her piece. Unfortunately, those intentions didn't translate to quality journalism. Hopefully in a few weeks time she will be able to reflect on her mistakes and how she can improve for the future.

UPDATE: I asked Newsweek Readback administrator Kurt Soller about the discrepancy in linking to the various e-mail campaigns. While it is true that Newsweek didn't link to the American Family Association's e-mail campaign in either the post mentioned above or a previous one related to religious objections to the cover, he did link to the campaign when he first mentioned it. I'm sorry I didn't notice that.

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