The San Jose Mercury News has apologized for the headline “Olympics: Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American,” that it ran after U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics on Thursday.
The original headline was ridiculed across social media for being racially insensitive.
The 20-year-old became the first African-American woman to win a gold in an individual swimming event when she tied with Canadian Penny Oleksiak in the 100 freestyle. However, her moment in history was underplayed by the paper.
The headline was later changed and the following message was added to the story: “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.”
Manuel is a Stanford student so the San Jose Mercury News in Northern California is one of the local papers in that region. The headline now recognizes that regional connection, “Olympics: Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps make history.”
“This medal is not just for me,” Manuel is quoted as saying in the story. “It’s for a whole bunch of people that came before me and have been an inspiration to me. It’s for all the people after me, who believe they can’t do it. And I just want to be inspiration to others that you can do it.”
The New York Daily News pointed out that the paper still didn’t the second time with, “Olympics: Michael Phelps shares historic night Stanford’s Simone Manuel.”
They finally got it right on the third try.
Manuel’s groundbreaking victory and Olympic-record time of 52.70 seconds won accolades from fellow athletes and entertainment stars alike in an outpouring of love on social media and hate from people who saw the original headline.
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) August 12, 2016
That San Jose Mercury News headline gaffe might've been the worst of the #Rio2016 sexist/racist lot
— C. Alex Dye (@CamAlexander91) August 12, 2016
— ~Kyle Brogdon~ (@kylebrogdon) August 12, 2016
San Jose Mercury News wins gold in the 140-character offensive headline race https://t.co/IYDWxSOd5M
— Farkworthy (@Farkworthy) August 12, 2016
Well done San Jose Mercury News! You managed to be sexist AND racist in just nine words!!! https://t.co/WEG59OMJ6N
— Heather Shellen (@hshellen) August 12, 2016
Is the Olympics a competition in sports or which media outlet can publish the most offensive thing? I can’t tell https://t.co/2FsORgoFTp
— CatDog (@rebeccapbp) August 12, 2016
And the racist and sexist headlines keep on coming, this is probably the worst Olympics yet…hate to say it! https://t.co/YDWUKjBx37
— Victor (@vmsonline) August 12, 2016