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March 12, 2012
Somewhere in a sports department, an editor interviews a young job applicant.
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March 12, 2012

Going On The Offensive

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Somewhere in a sports department, an editor interviews a young job applicant.

EDITOR: So you want to work here, kid? O.K., here's a test. You have two minutes to come up with a headline for a story about how Lakers forward Pau Gasol keeps getting asked about rumors that he's going to be traded. [Pause.] Whaddaya got?

APPLICANT: Well, Gasol is from Spain, so how about "Spanish Inquisition"?

EDITOR: Excellent ...


EDITOR: ... way to get yourself fired. You can't just go throwing around references to someone's nationality like that. Are you saying it's all right to interrogate Gasol just because he's from Spain? Are you suggesting that Spaniards are afraid to answer questions, that they have something to hide? Can't you see how offensive that is?

APPLICANT: I didn't mean anything like that. Gasol's known for being a great player from Spain.

EDITOR: Sorry, kid, but you don't get to decide what's insulting. The public does, and the public's a sensitive bunch these days. There was a headline on ESPN's website last week about the Steelers' cutting 36-year-old receiver Hines Ward, who had spent his entire career in Pittsburgh. It said, "No Happy Endings." You might think there's nothing wrong with that, but Ward's mother is Korean, and some people pointed out that happy endings is also slang for an illicit activity in massage parlors, some of which have Asian workers.

APPLICANT: Wow, that's a long way to go to find something objectionable.

EDITOR: Yep. You have to take the crosstown bus and transfer a couple of times. But that's the climate. Any comment remotely related to race or ethnicity is studied under a microscope for trace amounts of bigotry. And between the Internet and Twitter it doesn't take much to build an instant groundswell of outrage.

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