Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

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.

  • Spectator

    This whole incident is universally ugly,. One of my own FB “friends” took a comment I made about this incident on my own FB page, copied it out of context, and showed it to my employer. Really??? FWIW, I support Dan Solomon’s position and was very dismayed and disgusted at the approach St. Amant took in that story. Karma, peoples.

  • Erik

    You say ethics and being responsible to the public are no longer a real concern for most of the media at large. Including D, it seems, as there is no mention of any attempt to get a comment from CultureMap on this story. Oh, wait, this is a blog. I guess it doesn’t count then. Hey Bradford, didn’t Ms. St Amant get promoted over you at one point before she left D? That’s right. Ethics.

  • BradfordPearson

    Erik- She did, but I’m not entirely sure how you think that plays into this.

  • Erik

    It’s a one sided blog post about a competitor of D, regarding an article written by someone you have a previous history with. Conflict of interest? In any case, my comment was directed mostly to Nathan, who thanked you for being “the lone voices of responsibility in journalism”, which is absurd and also funny.

  • BradfordPearson

    I do have a previous history with Claire, one that I would consider friendly and cordial.
    As for the one-sidedness of this post, all I did was repurpose posts other people – including Claire – wrote. I don’t think conflict of interest is the expression you’re looking for “Erik,” since that definition would make it nearly impossible for any member of the Dallas media to report on another. It’s not a large town, media-wise.
    And I agree that, if we’re both interpreting it correctly, Nathan’s “lone voice” comment is patently false. I can see a handful of better voices just from my desk.

  • Avid Reader

    Pretty sure that Nathan Webster was referring to Dan Solomon as what he says is “one of the lone voices in journalism” and not Bradford Pearson who neither commented on the story one way or the other; just reported it.

  • Liz Landry

    I had the same reaction as Dan Solomon and posted in as many places as I could reasonably find to express my displeasure. And, I remember telling my friend when I did it that I pretty much just guaranteed I would never work at CultureMap (which as a freelance writer is sometimes a dumb move… but in this case one I would willingly do again). I had a feeling that a company that would allow a post like that, and then would encourage the additional woe-is-me double-down post would also take action against anyone who expressed displeasure. Sorry for Dan that I was correct.