After looking over the protocol anecdote today, an old adage came to mind. “Don’t assume, because you’ll make an ass out of yourself."
By taking away just one letter, the editor of this story made the Gainesville Sun lose credibility as a respectable publication because of its negligence (to those who know about the mistake). Assuming the writer interviewed a heterosexual couple instead of a homosexual couple also made the writer look bad as well because it now looks like the story was fabricated to satisfy the social norm.
The editor should have checked back with the writer to confirm the sexuality of all persons interviewed if there was any question. And even if the writer was not able to be reached, he or she should have gone with what the writer turned in originally and not make the change. I know this also has its gray areas, and obviously referring back to the writer is most essential, but writers place certain information in their stories on purpose, not for an intentional mistake.
This situation reminds me of my first published story, also in the Gainesville Sun. The story was about a charity event being held by the UF football team. It was published with more quotes than I originally submitted because the editor but quotation marks on comments I paraphrased. I’m sure the editor and myself are the only ones to know of this until now, and I didn’t mind at all, but I was obviously surprised that this happened. And I could see why they would do this. After all, people don’t sound that good when they speak. That’s why I paraphrased it.