Federico on ESPN headline: ‘It was an awful editorial omission and it cost me my job’

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Anthony Federico released an extended statement today in which he reiterates that he was not attempting a racist pun when he wrote “Chink in the Armor” as the headline for an ESPN story about the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin. Federico says:

I wrote thousands and thousands and thousands of headlines in my five years at ESPN. There never was a problem with any of them and I was consistently praised as an employee – both personally and professionally. Two weeks prior to the incident I had my first column published on espnW.com. My career was taking off. Why would I throw that all away with a racist pun? This was an honest mistake.

It is also crucial that people know that the writer of the column had nothing to do with the headline. I wrote it and now I take responsibility for it.

I am actually a Knicks fan and an ardent supporter of Jeremy Lin. Not surprisingly, he has handled the entire situation with grace and class.

Now I have to find a new job and move on with my life.

As part of the Poynter Review Project, Jason Fry reviewed the incident — and two others in which ESPN used the same racial slur in covering Lin:

[ESPN Vice President for Mobile Content Anthony] Mormile praised Federico as “a good, good kid,” and called the mistake “a momentary lapse of judgment that ended up being an egregious error.” Many journalists have been saved by the sharp eyes of others and some luck; sadly, Federico had neither on his side. But, even at mobile speed, a headline writer has time to deliberate, and learning how to step back and assess one’s work is a critical skill.

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  • Anonymous

    …..a certain term might be loaded with history (I heard a story of a group facilitator using the term ”flip chart” and being told that ”flip” is a derogatory term for Filipinos; the faciliator plotzed but managed to pull herself together, apologized and switched to easel pad/easel paper).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I5T7ARYGWSAAQC6FUTGMWHQCHU tigerweeds

    ESPN stands behind their employees…until they need them to stand behind them…welcome to the spineless gutless leaderless world we live in. Everybody is politically correct…it will be the death of our nation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I5T7ARYGWSAAQC6FUTGMWHQCHU tigerweeds

    ESPN stands behind their employees…until they need them to stand behind them…welcome to the spineless gutless leaderless world we live in. Everybody is politically correct…it will be the death of our nation.

  • Anonymous

    by the way, i love in Asia, you should HEAR what Asians call white people in Hong Kong and Taiwan and Japan and China and Thailand…..in Thailand we are FARANGS, in HK we are Ghost Devils, in Japan we are HAIRY BARBARIANS, in Taiwan we are BIG NOSES, in CHINA we are OLD OUTSIDERS

  • Anonymous

    and how about terms like TO WELSH on a bet, to JEW someone down, to GYP someone, to use SCOTCH tape, to FRENCH kiss, the MEXICAN fire drill….ALL THESE must be junked. YES. Racism and faithism — google it, i coined it this week — must go!

  • Anonymous

    what if he had written ”a ch*nk in the amare” ?

  • http://twitter.com/SportsTriCities SportsTriCities

    I wonder whether Federico had ever heard the term used in a racial context. When I was a child, my dad told me he would hear the term from his grandmother back in the 1950s. Other than that, I never heard anyone else use the term while I was growing up. (I’m 28, the same age as Federico.) I don’t know whether Federico was ignorant or just had never come across the term in a different manner than the one in which he used it. Perhaps it’s a generational thing?

    @Kai: I think what MarkWollemann means is that Federico should not have been wearing all the hats — writer, editor, publisher, etc. Even editors need an editor.

  • Agent Salt

    OMG, he called him a “good kid”!? what an ageist comment! Mormile should be fired and ESPN should apologize immediately! As a member of Federico’s age group, I am deeply offended by this insensitive comment.

  • http://twitter.com/kaimcn Kai

     Federico should have rearranged his sleep schedule so he can do his job, if the problem was fatigue.

  • Anonymous

    ESPN should fire the person who thought it’d be a good idea to have one person writing AND publishing their content at 2:30 a.m.

  • http://twitter.com/kaimcn Kai

     This may not be career ending, if he has references and experiences to back up his talent and his value as an employee. This was, however, a huge mistake and obviously ESPN thought it warranted job action. I certainly don’t disagree.

  • Anonymous

    ESPN, in my opinion, was cowardly in not backing a good employee who made a stupid mistake. I’ve worked 28 years in this business, many of them on sports desks at night. If I was running a department somewhere, I’d hire Anthony. One mistake, especially one like this, should not end a career.