Mailbox: Journo Miffed About Headline

On Tuesday we published a post about Lizzie O’Leary, formerly of CNN and now a freelancer for NPR, who opened up to about her sex life, her painful periods and a gynecological condition called endometriosis. Our headline and item said as much: Lizzie O’Leary Opens Up About Her Sex Life, Why She Couldn’t Stay at CNN and Living With Painful Endometriosis.
But O’Leary took issue with our coverage and wrote in late last night to let us know.
Lizzie’s letter to FishbowlDC:
Subject line: your tone in your piece about me
I see that you have written something about the Cosmo piece. That’s fine, and I spoke publicly, so it’s to be expected. Certainly, you write about media, and I am in media.
But I want you to know that I agreed to do that interview with Cosmo so that younger women wouldn’t have to endure what I did. I’ve had two major surgeries and several minor ones, logged countless hospital visits, and had my illness dismissed by doctors, coworkers, and even family.
Please don’t be so glib as to refer to that interview as about my “sex life.” Yes, that’s a part of the piece, because Cosmo asked about it.  But it’s about so much more. And painting my illness in such a flip way is exactly the kind of thing that keeps women ashamed and quiet about diseases like endometriosis. I’m lucky to have an understanding partner. Many women with this disease are so afraid to admit it that they won’t even date.
You write a gossip blog, I’m a big girl, and I can take it. But I doubt you’d want a younger sister or friend to hold back on getting treatment because they were afraid of being mocked.
Please think it over.
Dear Lizzie: I’ve thought it over. We’re certainly sorry for the pain you’ve experienced with your condition. Thanks for writing in and expressing yourself. You opened up to a national magazine about your sex life, your painful periods,  a painful condition, working at CNN and why that proved to be too difficult (as it happens, throwing up after a live shot is difficult), and more. And somehow, you perceive our vanilla pudding pop headline with the word “sex” in it as something that will prevent young girls from getting help should they need it. The stretch in thought here is incredible (and by “incredible” I mean absurd). I find this about as difficult to comprehend as a story on murder leaving off the word “murder” because it might offend someone or scare a child who reads it. Next time you open up to a national magazine about your sex life, your painful periods and a painful condition, please leave out the sex, the periods, the painful condition and any other personal thing you don’t want the world to discuss. Something else: we write a media blog that sometimes incorporates gossip. The item on you was not gossip, it was fact, a simple aggregate. Unlike some, I don’t take offense to the word “gossip” but I prefer accuracy to a word that may one day prevent young girls from going into a niche of journalism they may otherwise find interesting and exciting. Please think it over.