New NYT hire Sarah Jeong says Tweets about White People 'counter-trolling' & satire - iMediaEthics

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(Credit: NYTimes)

After the New York Times announced that it had hired Sarah Jeong, who is Asian, for its editorial board, older tweets of hers about white people in response to online harassers re-surfaced.

“The tweets in question were largely from 2014, and they aimed criticism at white people,” CNN reported. Tweets included

  • “#CancelWhitePeople”
  • “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins?”
  • “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

The Times is standing by Jeong, but explained it “does not condone” her previous tweets and Jeong won’t do it again.

“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment,” the Times said in a statement. “For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media. She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it.”

The newspaper added that Jeong “understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times.”

Ethics chair for the Society of Professional Journalists Andrew Seaman told iMediaEthics, “My general thought is that newsrooms and news organizations should think about how they’re going to deal with these types of situations, which are becoming more common. Each situation is obviously different, but there needs to be some give since Twitter and other platforms often lack context, etc. For journalists, I think it’s important to realize that what is said on Twitter is part of the person’s public persona. So, they need to think of their social media hygiene.

Jeong also issued a statement in which she said she thought her tweets amounted to “counter-trolling” and “satire.” Jeong noted that she receives racial slurs and online harassment, explaining:

“While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers,” Jeong wrote. “These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”

The Verge, where Jeong works currently, stood by Jeong saying “this abusive backlash is dishonest and outrageous.”

“Many of those now reacting to these tweets have intentionally taken them out of context, and she has since received an unrelenting stream of abuse from strangers on the internet,” the Verge said.

Earlier this year, the Times‘ editorial board hired and then quickly fired Quinn Norton over old tweets she posted using racial and anti-gay slurs, as iMediaEthics reported.

iMediaEthics has written to Jeong.


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New NYT hire Sarah Jeong says Tweets about White People ‘counter-trolling’ & satire

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