The Chicago Sun-Times had to do some explaining about a front-page headline it ran this weekend about the deadly crash of Asiana Airline Flight 214 in San Francisco.
The headline read "Fright 214," which was an obvious pun on the plane's flight number.
Criticism of the Sun-Times headline is based on something its editors apparently did not think about -- and something many of us would not have thought about. The plane that crashed came from Asia, originating in China and then making a stop in South Korea.
The "Asian American Journalists Association" saw the headline "Fright 214" as racially tinged, saying some people believe changing the word "flight" into "fright" perpetuates a stereotype about the way people with Asian accents speak -- that they pronounce "l's" as "r's."
The AAJA wrote on its website: "While we at the Asian American Journalists Association are willing to give the Sun-Times the benefit of the doubt, the headline used to accompany the paper's coverage was certainly unfortunate. An editor should have caught the racially tinged wording."
The Sun-Times is said to have responded: "There was nothing intentional on our part to play off any stereotypes. If anybody was offended by that, we are sorry. We were trying to convey the obviously frightening situation of that landing."
The Asian Journalists Association says the real problem is that many newsrooms lack a diversity of voices that might have led to someone pointing out a certain headline could be perceived as in appropriate. It's urging news organizations to have newsroom personnel that reflect the overall diversity of America.