Thursday, October 27, 2005

Irving news pulls breastfeeding cover, fires editor

This from CBC News , Oct 11th 2005:

The Irving newspaper group has pulled the latest issue of Here magazine from store shelves and fired its editor after a photo of a breastfeeding baby appeared on its cover.

The photo is an extreme close-up of a tiny baby suckling at its mother's breast. The cover promoted a story about World Breastfeeding Week, which began Oct. 1. The story also highlighted the low rates of breastfeeding in New Brunswick.

Irving news executives replaced the photo with a cartoon drawing of a woman holding a baby in a blanket.

Former Here editor Miriam Christensen says she was fired Oct. 6, after Brunswick News executives recalled the paper bearing the original cover from delivery trucks and stores across the province.

Christensen had given notice of her plans to resign for other reasons a few days earlier.

Christensen is surprised at her former employer's reaction to the photo, and says she didn't think an image of a nursing baby would offend anyone.

"I never thought they would pull it. We had a professional photographer in Saint John go to this woman's house, who was more than kind to agree. The photos were beautiful, they were all beautiful and I really like that one in particular. I just thought it was a really sweet moment."

Brunswick News vice-president Victor Mlodecki told CBC the original cover was inappropriate for some of the locations that might have distributed it.

Moncton coffee shop Joe Mokka is one of the few places that received copies of Here with the original front page.

Café manager Gail Morin says her customers didn't seem to mind the photo. "Nobody's ever approached [me]. I wouldn't take it down, even if they did. It's natural, it's nature. It's nothing wrong with it."

Freelance journalist Brent MacDonald wrote the cover story and is angry the photo was pulled. He says the cover was an important part of the piece. He says he won't work for the paper any more.

"That photo was pulled, the image of a mother breastfeeding her baby, and it really didn't do any justice to the story, or the real issue here, that mothers in New Brunswick aren't breastfeeding their babies and babies are being shortchanged."

Here is a free weekly magazine targeting urban youth in New Brunswick. It was an independent publication for five years until 2004, when Irving-owned Brunswick News bought it.

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