So are Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News anti-Christian? Do they employ executives who are religious bigots? Should journalists who endorse traditional marriage simply not apply for jobs?
I decided to call Shaw Media’s head honcho to get answers to those questions.
Unfortunately, the head honcho did not want to take my call. Instead, he had his secretary (a very pleasant sounding lady) deliver the message.
She said they had not heard of the lawsuit and even if they had Shaw Media would not comment on pending litigation. I received a similar email message from the current publisher of the Newton Daily News.
Bob told me he is pretty torn up over the controversy.
“As a journalist, I know how important the First Amendment is for our country,” he told me. “As an editor, I’ve always felt it’s dangerous for a newspaper to censor anybody’s ideas – whether they agree with them or disagree with them.”
There were a few issues that I had with Bob’s story. First, why was a newsman writing a personal blog? In many newsrooms across the country, such activity is outright banned.
Bob tells me Shaw Media does not have a policy prohibiting personal blogs or social networking sites. When he was hired, Bob told them he had a personal blog and he said he was encouraged to continue his off-the-clock writings.
And then there was the matter of the content. At first glance, it appears Bob was referring to the LGBT community as “the enemy.”
But it turns out – that’s not the case at all. He said he was referring to Satan – not homosexuals.
That’s a valid explanation. In the Christian tradition, Satan is often referred to as the “Enemy.” However, since Bob used a lower case ‘e’ – it implied the LGBT community was the enemy.
“Bob confessed it was a failure on his editorial part,” Dys told me. “He forgot to capitalize the ‘e’.”
During my conversations with Bob he seemed like a stand-up guy. I suspect had the newspaper bosses given him a chance to dialogue about the posting, they could have worked out an amicable and reasonable solution. But it doesn’t sound like the folks at Shaw Media are all that reasonable.
“There will be some who will criticize our action, and mistakenly site Mr. Eschliman’s First Amendment rights as a reason he should continue on as an editor of the Newton Daily News,” Rung wrote. “As previously stated, he has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.”
So for what it’s worth – Shaw Media decided that Bob, a faithful husband and father, a devout and outspoken Christian man, an award-winning journalist – did not represent the values of their company.
Maybe Shaw Media ought to reconsider its values.
It’s a shame a company that exists, thanks to freedom of press, wants to take away a man’s freedom of speech.