Last night, Michael Phelps continued his torpedo of dominance through the Olympics. Another representative of Team USA, Simone Manuel, had her own big moment when she became the first black American to win gold in any individual swimming event.
Here’s how the Mercury News framed the events:
[job opening alert] pic.twitter.com/KAEnne9RwD
— alex (@steven_lebron) August 12, 2016
Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American! How generous!
Following a bout of late-night backlash, the California newspaper put out a replacement headline:
so flustered now they can’t even get it grammatically correct. keep trying, tho pic.twitter.com/Vf2X6bPaM3
— Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) August 12, 2016
Eventually, they got the headline right and included an editors’ note and apology:
— Lynn B. Johnson, MFA (@LBJMFA) August 12, 2016
We apologize for an insensitive headline earlier on a story about Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps’ medal wins. https://t.co/ykWvcddaKf
— Mercury News (@mercnews) August 12, 2016
This is, of course, the same newspaper that published a column arguing for super-lenient sentencing for Brock Turner, the guy responsible for the Stanford sexual assault that dominated headlines earlier this year. They’re no strangers to controversy.
One of the only things that can be said in their defense is that the original headline sounds like the type of thing reporters churn out to ensure high Google result placement. It reeks of SEO, which involves trying to guess which words will be searched most often and then cramming them all into one headline. Still, the headline is supposed to make sense.
This did not make sense.
[image via screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.