Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Fired Columnist Sues Village Voice

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Fired Columnist Sues Village Voice

Article excerpt

HUGH PEARSON'S TENURE at the Village Voice was brief, only two months, but his legacy remains in the form of a lawsuit filed against his former employer.

Pearson, hired Nov. 25, 1996, as a $60,000-a-year columnist, was fired Jan. 16 for reasons the Voice would not disclose.

All Voice legal counsel, Barbara Cohen, would say was that Pearson "was fired during his probationary period" and that his lawsuit was "meritless and frivolous"

In his lawsuit, Pearson is alleging that after entering into the one-year contract, the Voice intentionally engaged in conduct contrary to the agreement.

Pearson charges that the Voice: unreasonably interfered with the content of his column by subjecting him to "excessive editing"; refused to allow him to control the content of his column; prevented him from completing his column; refused to cooperate with him in resolving problems relating to his column; made it difficult for him to write about topics other than race; and subjected him to humiliation and ridicule in the editing of his column.

According to Pearson, his dismissal followed a heated telephone discussion with editor Miles Seligman over the content of one of Pearson's columns.

Far from the first disagreement between the two, Pearson said the argument was the culmination of tensions that had simmered almost since he started at the Voice.

"Miles was nasty from day one," charged Pearson, who also claimed to have editorial difficulties with another Voice editor, Angela Ards.

"They gave me two novices" said Pearson who claimed both Seligman and Ards had only recently been promoted to senior editors when they began editing his articles. …

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