The Daily News-Miner in Alaska has apologized to former Gov. Sarah Palin for a headline that would have been considered sexist and unacceptable 20 years ago, let alone in the early 21st century:
The Daily News-Miner has had its agreements and disagreements with now-former Gov. Sarah Palin at various points during her time serving the state of Alaska. We have tried to maintain respect for the office of governor and to be generally civil when discussing Mrs. Palin, her policies and the actions she took while serving as governor. The same has been true for the time since she left office.
Today I must apologize to Mrs. Palin personally and on behalf of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for the choice of words used on the bottom of Wednesday’s front page regarding her speaking engagement in Hong Kong this week to a group of global investors.
We used offensive language — “A broad in Asia” — above a small photograph of the former governor to direct readers inside the newspaper to a full story of her Hong Kong appearance.
There can be no argument that our use of the word “broad” is anything but offensive. To use this word to describe someone of the stature of the former governor — who is also the former vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party — only adds to the anger that many people appropriately feel.
“A broad in Asia” is a headline that I can’t imagine anyone on the desk at the two daily newspapers for which I worked — (then) Knight Ridder’s Wichita Eagle (before it merged with the evening Beacon) and (then) Copley Press’ San Diego Union (before it merged with the evening Tribune) writing…let alone getting in the newspaper. It would have been nixed before it ever got to print and the headline writer would have been in hot water, indeed.
Managing Editor Rob Boyce’s apology is a good one. It ends this way:
I will say it clearly again now: We made a terrible mistake.
Mrs. Palin, please accept this apology from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
And please accept it from me.
I also apologize to our readers, many of whom have been devoted to this newspaper for years and who deserve better.
People often talk about the “news hole’ in a newspaper. This seems like a judgment hole. It’s hard to understand how that headline ever made it into print. And it’s a headline that would offend readers whether they are Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, centrists or liberals. It isn’t PC to say it didn’t belong in a newspaper. In a weak edition of Saturday Night Live, perhaps — but even then the headline would have been seen as trite, sexist comedic hackery that would have elicited shakes of the head more than laughter or even raised eyebrows.
Journalistically, it is even less worthy than that.