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NYT Rejected Alternative Story of Shepard Murder — But Not for Political Reasons

NYT Rejected Alternative Story of Shepard Murder — But Not for Political Reasons

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A former New York Times Magazine editor says he spiked Stephen Jimenez's story on Matthew Shepard's murder because it wasn't quite good enough, not because it was 'politically sensitive.'

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Stephen Jimenez, author of a controversial new book that claims Matthew Shepard's killers did not act out of hatred for gay people but instead were drug-motivated, says he tried to sell this story to The New York Times Magazine in 2004, but the magazine rejected it for political reasons. Not so, says a former Times Magazine editor.

Jimenez writes in The Book of Matt that his freelance article on the crime "was killed without explanation," adding, "I surmised that the story's politically sensitive content was the problem."

Paul Tough, an editor at the magazine at the time, says that wasn't the case, and he spoke with media watchdog group Media Matters about it. "My recollection is definitely that it was not killed because it was politically sensitive, but that the story just wasn't there for all of the reasons that stories sometimes aren't there," he told Media Matters. "I remember being really interested in the idea and I think the Times Magazine doesn't shy away from controversy and we're interested in new takes on things and the only reason we had assigned the story was this new idea."

Jimenez, he added, "was a person I think who didn't have a lot of experience in long-form magazine writing. And so the story never got to the level where we could publish it. My recollection was that he and I went through a few edits and drafts together but I don't remember what the final sticking point was. He certainly wrote a draft and my recollection is more than one draft, but in the editing process things are never done until they're done. For whatever reason I feel like for us it didn't get to the level of being a complete and publishable story."

Read more here.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.