A female columnist writes about football and is told to 'stay in the kitchen next time'

Albany Times Union

Albany Times Union columnist Jennifer Gish wrote last week that the Buffalo Bills' 2-0 start "has brought the worst out" in some fans and that "one of you left voicemails for the [Times Union] sports department that would make even a potty mouth like Ron Jaworski blush." As she always does, Gish put her email address and phone number at the end of the column, headlined "Bills fans need help keeping it real"; this time, though, she added: "Keep it clean, Bills fans."

As you might guess, they didn't.

"About a dozen readers called me, most of them leaving voicemail messages in the off-hours, mostly laced with profanity," Gish tells me. "The response has been quite an awakening to both the world of sports, and honestly, the world." She reprints some of the emails in today's column. A few of them:

So how does it feel to be both a woman and so wrong about football? I guess those two go hand in hand.

F*** yourself ya stupid C***, Go Bills!

seen some photos of you and you are as ugly as your story about we bills fans.

YOU SUCK DONKEY D***! That's why females shouldn't be allowed to write articles about sports.

Maybe you should stay in the kitchen next time.

Maybe you and ESPN's Ashley Fox should work on your own "special ed." power rankings (if you don't know what I'm referring to I suggest you see how she ranked teams this week).

"I received about 300 emails after the first column, about 40 percent of them were in the tone of those published in today’s column," Gish says in an email. She continues:

Many of the responses, came from outside of our coverage area, thanks to the dissemination of my column on Bills fan message boards. The tenor of the discussion on those boards was in line with the things said in today’s column. My picture was posted on at least two of the message boards, where my appearance was dissected, as was my need to get “laid.” When it got out that I’d been receiving feedback that included the c-word and other profanity, the overwhelming response on the message boards was that I had it coming.

The woman in me wanted to put this behind me and wait for it to go away. The journalist in me knew I had a responsibility to say something important. I talked to Karen Crouse from the New York Times, who gave me some advice on framing the column in a way that would not come out as defensive, but put the emphasis on the issue at hand. I am very fortunate to work for a newspaper with a supportive sports editor and executive editor, who understood the significance of this situation and were willing to stretch our usual practices for dealing with profanity in the newspaper.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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