The Philadelphia Public Record published Asian racial slurs in its Aug. 21 issue, Philadelphia Magazine reported. In a caption for a photo of eight people, the free weekly newspaper listed the names “Me Too, Chinky Winky and Dinky Doo.”
The newspaper has since published an Aug. 24 apology admitting the names are “an offensive slur” and that it is investigating the “intolerable abuse.” The paper also fired the person responsible.
Editor Jim Tayound told iMediaEthics by e-mail: “For your info, the individual responsible has been fired. We have a long history of support to the Chinese American communities in Philadelphia. Formal Apology will appear in Thursday’s edition.”
The Aug. 24 apology states:
“In our Aug. 21, 2014 issue an offensive slur was accidentally published in the Philadelphia Public Record. This shocking lapse of professional conduct occurred contrary to our editorial directives and in no way reflects the views of our staff or our organization.
“An internal investigation is underway to uncover the source of this intolerable abuse and to prevent it from ever happening again. We apologize whole-heartedly to the Asian American community and to all Philadelphians of this vibrant, diverse city who work together to make it the best place in America to live and to grow.”
Before fessing up and taking responsibility for the slurs, the newspaper’s editor Jim Tayoun previously claimed to Philadelphia Magazine the the slurs were published due to a “proofreading error.” He claimed the three slurs were supposed to be placeholder text until the newspaper got the real names for the people. Tayoun maintained that even when Philadelphia Magazine pointed out that there were eight people in the photograph, and eight real names in the caption, plus the three slurs.
(There also was a typo in the caption, with the word “for” misspelled “fro.”)
Tayoun claimed the editor responsible was a “Britisher” who “didn’t mean anything by it” and that the Philadelphia Public Record is “the most inclusive publication in Philadelphia.”
The OCA Asian American Advocates, Greater Philadelphia Chapter protested the slurs in a letter by chapter president Lien T. Vu posted in the comments section of the Record‘s website. It said in part:
“Your use of the terms “Me Too, Chinky Winky, and Dinky Doo” to identify Chinese American participants perpetuates the foreigner stereotype that has been responsible for the loss of lives and livelihood of generations of Asian Americans. By ridiculing the sound of Asian names, your editor has reinforced the historically racist contempt for Asian American people and culture that has prevailed throughout American history. By doing so in the context of a political fundraiser, he challenges their exercise of a fundamental constitutional right, the right to petition an elected representative.”
The OCA Asian American Advocates called for advertisers to stop buying ads in the newspaper.
San Francisco Fox-affiliate KTVU fired three producers last year after the station was duped into reporting that three of the pilots involved in the Asiana Flight 214 plane crash were named Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow.
UPDATE: 11:53 AM EST Added statement from Tayoun