The past week there has been a lot of talk about the ESPN editor that wrote a
Before Federico’s headline gained attention I had no idea “chink” was an offensive word. I had honestly only heard the term “chink” used in the cliche “chink in the armor.” I do not agree Federico should have been fired for not knowing the derogatory meaning of a word. I agree with the article published on Poynter by Roy Peter Clark. People do need to be responsible for their words and actions but I do not think people should be punished for ignorance. After reading Federico’s apology, I believe he did not know the derogatory meaning of “chink.” I do not think it was fair that Federico lost his job while anchor Max Bretos, who said the cliche is being suspended for thirty days.
An article published on bigleadsports.com titled “ESPN Took a Harsh Stand With the Max Bretos One Month Suspension” made some interesting points about words and their meanings. It started with a reference to a line that contained the word “chink” in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. According to the article Shakespeare used the word “chink” 300 years before it became a derogatory word. The article points out that words can have different meanings depending on the context and tone.
This incident has frightened me as a broadcast reporter and producer because I do not know every word that is considered offensive. I feel like I could easily be in Federico’s situation. I think there should be some kind of training or list in the news room for terms that are viewed as offensive. However, there may be so many words with offensive meanings that it may not be practical or possible to create a list.
What do you think can be done to prevent journalists from accidently using offensive words? Do you think Federico’s punishment was justified?