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CultureMap Freelancer Fired For Questioning CultureMap’s Response to Alleged Highland Park Rapist Ryan Romo

A few weeks back, the Dallas CultureMap affiliate got in a bit of a media kerfuffle when they published a piece titled “Is this Highland Park baseball star a rapist?

In part:

No matter the facts, there is no good outcome in this case. If Romo forced himself on a girl in the backseat of his Chevy Tahoe as alleged, then he’s a sexual predator. If it’s a case of impulsive teenage decisions, remorse and guilt, then no one suffers more than 18-year-old Ryan Romo.

Dan Solomon is a freelance writer, a freelance writer who occasionally works for CultureMap. He was not happy with the post, and  said so on his personal website:

I’m embarrassed right now that my name is associated with the Culturemap brand. I’m really disappointed in St. Amant’s judgment and of Culturemap’s choice to publish such offensive – and stupid! – bullshit. Just to be clear, in case anyone who associates my name with Culturemap wants to know how I feel about it, that is how I feel.

Solomon explained his reasoning in a post this morning for xojane.com. The post is called “It Happened to Me: I Lost a Job For Calling Out The Company’s Rape Apology.”

I don’t give a whole lot of thought to whatever my “personal brand” as a writer is, but if I had to pinpoint it, “Guy with enough credibility to call out people who say or do fucked up things” would be a fair approximation of what I’m going for. At the time the post about Ryan Romo went live on CultureMap, my face was on the main page of the site, which meant that it’d be reasonable for people to associate me with that post —- unless I said something.

Fast-forward a few days from Solomon’s personal blog post:

After about a week, though, I got an email from my editors at the Austin edition of CultureMap. The Dallas higher-ups had found the post on Tumblr. They asked me to meet them for coffee, at which point they explained to me that the company wanted me to take the post down.

Like most writers, being told that I’m not allowed to say something is the quickest way to make me defend having said it, and I told them that I couldn’t take it down. They told me that the company was upset, and they wouldn’t be able to work with me if I didn’t. I reached out to Claire St. Amant directly to discuss what both of us had written, didn’t hear anything back, and wrote off my relationship with CultureMap.

Obviously, I’m not a victim here (“No one suffers more than freelance writer Dan Solomon!”), but this whole experience was eye opening for me. CultureMap is a not-insignificant player in Texas media, and the idea that a company would let go of someone they’ve worked with for a long time for saying, “Speculating about whether a girl who files rape charges is a liar without reporting any information that leads to that conclusion is irresponsible!” while so steadfastly defending the article that does the speculating was a surprise.

So, that happened.