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NY Times Changes Yvonne Brill Obituary After Criticism

03/31/2013 11:22 am ET | Updated Mar 31, 2013

The New York Times responded to a chorus of critics on Saturday after it published an obituary about a famed female rocket scientist that led with her accomplishments as a wife and mother.

Yvonne Brill died on Wednesday at the age of 88. President Obama awarded her with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2011. Under the Times' headline, "Yvonne Brill, Pioneering Rocket Scientist, Dies At 88," the lede read:

She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 'The world’s best mom,' her son Matthew said.

Some readers tweeted their dissatisfaction, making fun of the Times' inclusion of her cooking skills and wondering if an obituary for a male rocket scientist would lead with anything but his professional accomplishments. The Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan even chimed in, saying that she agreed with the criticism and linking to a CJR article about how news coverage of women scientists often leads to gratuitous gender profiles.

Later, the Times dropped the beef stroganoff reference and changed the lede of the online obituary to:

She was a brilliant rocket scientist who followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 'The world’s best mom,' her son Matthew said.

The Times did not attach a note to the online article notifying readers of the change.

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