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.