I’ve been reading Mountain Xpress since the beginning, and Steve Shanafelt’s piece, “A Gardenburger for Your Thoughts” [June 28, 2000] was one of the worst articles ever printed. Thus, when I read “Letter From the Editors” [Aug. 1], I was pleased to learn that I was in good company. Steve was quoted as saying that his most bitter but educational memory was “Getting dressed down by [Publisher] Jeff Fobes while I was still an intern for writing a really dumb, pointlessly insulting piece about a vegetarian conference.”
Unfortunately, in an e-mail after that letter [was published], Steve stated, “It’s not like I’ve had a change of heart. That story was seen as dumb and insulting for some very legitimate reasons, but it was mostly a matter of the wrong person being given the wrong story. I don’t regret writing it at all, but rather the part where I got yelled at about it.” That’s a shame; journalists are supposed to be objective. Steve didn’t get it seven years ago, and he still doesn’t get it.
Vegetarian Summerfest is an annual gathering of hundreds, and the 2000 conference took place in Asheville for the first time in its then 26-year history. Leading nutritional scientists, ethicists and environmentalists from around the country were featured speakers. Unbiased media coverage would have encouraged locals to attend lectures and learn the overwhelming reasons to consider vegetarianism. Instead, the Mountain Xpress printed Steve’s anti-vegetarian diatribe. A follow-up column, “Vegetarians Invade Asheville,” refuted Steve’s inaccuracies and presented conference highlights. But that was after the event, and the damage was already done.
What’s even more perplexing than Steve’s lack of professionalism was the decision by the publisher to print something he recognized as really dumb and pointlessly insulting.
— Terri David
Steve Shanafelt replies: A complaint letter from the Davids? I have arrived! You can read my replies to this on the Xpress Web site, in the comments in response to the “Letter From the Editors,” Aug. 1.