Mississippi’s first same-sex wedding took place earlier this month in Jones County between Jessie Powell and Crystal Craven. However, what should have been a momentous and celebratory occasion instead received backlash from the community after the local daily newspaper, The Laurel Leader-Call, published a story, titled “Historic Wedding: women wed in Laurel through smiles, tears.” Written by a self-proclaimed conservative reporter, Cassidi Bush, the article provided an unbiased account of the wedding, exploring this historic moment for Mississippi and describing how the couple met, fell in love, and maintained their loving relationship despite Craven’s diagnosis of Stage 4 brain cancer.
Readers of the Leader-Call quickly attacked the article and the paper with antagonistic phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, and even canceled subscriptions. However, owner of the Leader-Call, Jim Cegielski, took matters into his own hands and responded with an op-ed he titled “Doing Our Job.” In his article, Cegielski stated, “Any decent newspaper with a backbone can not base decisions on whether to cover a story based on whether the story will make people angry. The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn’t take place or ignoring it because it will upset people.” Cegielski further emphasizes that the article did not take a stance on same-sex marriage, but rather reported a historic event for the county.
Cegielski concludes his article by stating that readers have every right to cancel their subscription to the paper, but they have no right to attack the paper or the staff for doing their job.
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