The Chicago Sun-Times has apologized for a headline pun used in reporting the Asiana Flight 214 airliner crash that seemed racist to some Asians.
Asiana Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco on Saturday, June 6, but in its front page report on the crash, the Chicago Sunday Sun-Times blared a headline that read “FRIGHT 214.”
The Asian American Journalists Association was not amused by the play on words, wondering if the Sun-Times understood that changing the “L” in “FLIGHT” to an “R” could easily be perceived as a play on the stereotypical difficulty of some Asians to pronounce the letter “L.”
“While we at the Asian American Journalists Association are willing to give the Sun-Times the benefit of the doubt, the headline used to accompany the paper’s coverage was certainly unfortunate. An editor should have caught the racially tinged wording,” said AAJA’s Bobby Calvan in a public post on the organization’s website.
The Sun-Times quickly apologized for the headline, saying, “There was nothing intentional on our part to play off any stereotypes. If anybody was offended by that, we are sorry.”
“We were trying to convey the obviously frightening situation of that landing,” said the paper’s Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Jim Kirk.
While accepting the paper’s apology, the AAJA also complained of a lack of diversity in the media today.
“If the Sun-Times’ copy desk is like many others in newsrooms across the nation, it probably lacked the diversity of voices on staff that might have questioned the appropriateness of the headline,” the AAJA’s Calvan wrote.