The Role of the Editor: How much is too much?

I wanted to do something a little different with this post and I need your help.  Basically I wanted my reader’s opinion on a situation that occurred to me the other day.

As many of you know, in addition to writing nutrition articles for my own magazine, Oasis, I also do semi-regular freelance work for another publication in the city called Cairo West.  While I was preparing an invoice earlier this week for my last few submissions, I thought it would be good to confirm they’d been published.  When I looked at my article in their January issue, I noticed that some text was missing.  Here’s an excerpt of what was published.

Snap 2015-03-20 at 14.05.17

This may not cause the average person’s eyebrows to raise, but I couldn’t help but notice some text that was conspicuously absent.  Below is the text I submitted (with yellow highlights around the missing text.

Snap 2015-03-20 at 14.11.05

Without getting too critical in how I decided to convey my message in the original text (in retrospect, I probably could’ve written that a bit better), has not the elimination of the highlighted text COMPLETELY changed the overall message?  In the article I wanted to acknowledge that certain beliefs exist regarding eating seasonal, local produce, but that there is no scientific consensus on the validity of these beliefs.  Removing that qualification on the statement above implies that I endorse these claims.

Part of my annoyance with the situation is that Cairo West editors are big proponents of dubious dietary practices and have run numerous articles alongside mine extolling the virtues of “natural health cures” for various ailments.  Basically I feel like their own beliefs have influenced their edits to my article.

I also come at the whole situation from a bit of a different perspective, because as a magazine editor myself, I regularly modify text submitted by my contributors.  I’ve never had formal training in what is appropriate to cut/add,etc., but I always do my best to keep the essence of our writer’s messages intact.  And if I feel like I might have changed anything significantly, I will send back the edits to the authors to review and approve the changes.

BUT… maybe I’m overreacting???

Have any other dietitians out there experienced this sort of thing before?  If so, how did you handle it?

What about from the editing perspective?  Would editors consider this type of edit fair game?  Or did it go too far?

Leave your feedback in the comments section.  I’m really curious what others think. Thanks!

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4 comments

  1. Vinny Grette · March 20, 2015

    I think the word “claim” implies not proven.

    • marcusoneill79 · March 21, 2015

      But that was something else that was changed too….”Some people make the claim…” was edited to “It is a general belief…”. Again this may be semantics but to me the language in the first implies that this is something I personally don’t subscribe to, whereas the edit leaves it more open…

  2. Vinny Grette · March 21, 2015

    I’m surprised those two statements are unproven. Aren’t there nutritional analyses of fruits over time, after harvest? Likewise of fruits before and after irradiation? I would have thought those statements are generally believed because they are true. When I was a science editor, I took out as many of those qualifying statements as I could get away with. But my changes were always subject to the author’s approval. If you think your meaning was changed, you have every right to take it up with the editor.

    • marcusoneill79 · March 22, 2015

      Thanks for your feedback. Research on these things is inconclusive at best. Some studies show correlations, others don’t. As with a lot of things, proponents of either side tend to cherry-pick the data to support their arguments…. From purely a nutrition perspective, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for eating seasonal/local over anything else. If ever proven, any benefits in terms of nutrients would almost certainly be minimal. What’s more important is that you’re eating fruits & veggies. There could be lots of reasons to eat seasonally/locally, but better nutritional quality of the food likely isn’t one of them….

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