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Newspaper Employee Fired for Racial Caption in Philadelphia Paper

By October 27, 2014 No Comments

By P.C. Staff

PHILADELPHIA — The newspaper editor responsible for writing a racially offensive caption for the Philadelphia Public Record was fired by its publisher, Jimmy Tayoun Sr., on Aug. 25 and a formal apology by the paper was issued.

Under the headline “Squilla Hosted in Chinatown,” the newspaper caption read, “Enjoying Asian-American cuisine at fundraiser for City Councilman Mark Squilla are: Feng Chen, Xiao Ting, Guang Zhou Yiyao Rong, Hao Hello, Guang Zhou, Mark Squilla, Yiyao Zhao, Du Wei, Me Too, Chinky Winky and Dinky Doo.”

Complaints flooded the newspaper from across the nation, including the Asian American Journalists Assn. and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Greater Philadelphia Chapter, and outrage ensued, with many threatening boycotts by advertisers and readers as well.

As a result, the paper issued the following statement: “In our Aug. 21, 2014, issue an offensive slur was accidentally published in the Philadelphia Public Record. This shocking lapse of professional conduct occurred contrary to our editorial directives and in no way reflects the views of our staff or our organization. . . . We apologize wholeheartedly to the Asian American community and to all Philadelphians of this vibrant, diverse city who work together to make it the best place in America to live and to grow.”

In response, the AAJA issued the following statement: “We at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) are disappointed that editors at the Philadelphia Public Record would stoop to using ethnic slurs and tired caricatures of Asian-sounding names in a photo caption published Aug. 21. The caption in the Public Record adds to the long history of Asian Americans being subjected to slurs for their language and appearance. We accept the apology from Public Record Publisher Jimmy Tayoun Sr., and we applaud him for issuing a correction online and pledging to publish one in print.

“ . . . While we at MediaWatch did not ask for disciplinary action, we acknowledge Tayoun’s extraordinary step in firing the person involved in the incident. . . . MediaWatch, AAJA’s watchdog program for fair and accurate news coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, also stands ready to assist news organizations that have questions or concerns about covering our communities.”

Originally published on September 5, 2014