Newspaper Covers Simone Manuel’s Historic Gold In Olympically Offensive Way

The San Jose Mercury News has since apologized for the "insensitive headline."

12/08/2016 3:13 PM IST | Updated 15/08/2016 8:18 PM IST

The San Jose Mercury News is catching heat for its offensive coverage of Simone Manuel’s historic gold medal.

The 20-year-old became the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming event at an Olympic Games Thursday when she took joint first place with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak in the 100-meter freestyle at Rio 2016.

Yet the California daily newspaper entirely omitted Manuel’s name from the headline of a story on its website focusing on her accomplishment. Instead, it wrote this:

Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American,” said the story’s headline and a subsequent tweet.

Twitter users immediately blasted the phrasing for not even mentioning Manuel’s name and solely describing her as “African-American.” 

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

The San Jose Mercury News later apologized for the headline and amended it to read, “Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps make history.”

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,” reads an editor’s note which has been since included.

“We apologize for the original headline. The story has also been updated.” 

We apologize for an insensitive headline earlier on a story about Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps’ medal wins,” it added in a tweet.

But Twitter users were still upset, saying the headline was still focusing on the wrong section of the story. They also questioned exactly why it had been published in the first place.

The incident follows a spate of sexist incidents in the media’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Games.

NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks sparked outrage when he appeared to credit Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s husband, Shane Tusup, for her world record-breaking win in the 400-meter individual medley ― while the Chicago Tribune was slammed for an article and tweet about Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s bronze medal for trap shooting that focused on the career of her NFL player husband, Mitch Unrein.

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