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NY Times Edits Obituary That Praised Rocket Scientist for Cooking Skill

The New York Times

An obit that began by applauding the "mean beef stroganoff" of scientist Yvonne Brill gets criticized online.

After facing criticism on social media and receiving notice from its own public editor, The New York Times changed an obituary about rocket scientist Yvonne Brill to edit out a reference to her cooking skill in the opening paragraph.

The opening lines of the Saturday obituary previously 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."

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After being edited, the obituary reads on Sunday: "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."

Margaret Sullivan, the Times public editor, wrote on Twitter: "To the many who've tweeted at me about the Yvonne Brill obituary, I sure agree." Sullivan also included a link to a Columbia Journalism Review post that explained how to "avoid gratuitous gender profiles of female scientists."

Melinda Henneberger, a Washington Post political writer, appraised the obit on Sunday: "Some readers were outraged; would the obit of a boy rocket scientist have begun with his 'mean beef stroganoff'? What makes a stroganoff mean, anyway?"