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Newspaper Apologizes for ‘Insensitive Headline’ on Its Olympics Coverage

Aug 12, 2016  •  Post A Comment

After the Twitterverse erupted in outrage, a major newspaper issued an apology for a headline it ran on its Olympics coverage.

Following Gold Medal performances by U.S. swimmers Michael Phelps and Simone Manuel, The San Jose Mercury-News ran the headline “Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American” on its website. The paper also used the headline on a subsequent tweet, which you can see below.

Manuel is the first African American to win an Olympic medal in an individual swimming event. And she won gold.

Social media users reamed the paper for failing to mention Manuel’s name and describing her solely as an “African-American.” To make matters worse, Manuel has a connection to the paper’s local market as a junior at Stanford.

Twitter users “also slammed the headline as sexist, as it focused on Phelps and his achievement of winning his 22nd gold medal,” The Huffington Post reports. “That was despite his accomplishments forming the secondary part of the article, being only detailed from the 14th paragraph onwards.”

The headline brought out a torrent of critical social media comments. One user wrote: “Is this real life? So disappointing! Way to go @mercnews … her name is @simone_manuel tf?”

Another commented: “unfortunate that the story portrays Manuel as someone who forced Phelps to ‘share the spotlight.'”

The Mercury-News deleted its original tweet, changed the headline on the story and revised the story. The new headline reads: “Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps make history.”

The paper accompanied the revised story with an apology that reads: “The original headline on this story was insensitive and has been updated to acknowledge the historic gold medal wins by both Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps. We apologize for the original headline. The story has also been updated.”

San Jose Mercury-News Olympics tweet

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