Headlines Making Headlines

29 Feb

Linsanity. Linning. To Linfinity and Beyond.

These headlines show some of the clever puns revolving around the New York Knicks’ point guard-turned-overnight celebrity, Jeremy Lin. Most puns were in good taste, but it was one cliché with unintentional racial implications that left a 28-year old editor without a job last week.

ESPN’s Mistake

A few hours after the Knicks suffered their first loss with Lin at the helm, ESPN Mobile produced the headline “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets.” The headline was taken down 35 minutes later, but by that time, the headline had spread throughout social media and ESPN was the target of serious backlash and disgust.

ESPN’s Reaction

Since then, ESPN issued an apology and a statement:

“We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.”

The editor who created the headline was fired, and the ESPN anchor that used the same phrase on live TV was suspended for 30 days.

Relevance to Business Communication

A story like this one is an example of how great an influence social media has on today’s world. The quick criticisms ESPN received from Twitter were part of the reason they took down the headline so quickly.

The response of ESPN in this situation shows the appropriate measures a company should take when they know made a mistake. ESPN immediately released a statement and apology, and also deemed it appropriate to terminate the editor’s employment. Crisis communication is very important in corporate situations and this is an example of a response that was timely, and helped mend the situation. The way a company responds in a time of crisis plays a big role in whether or not a company will maintain its loyal customer base even after making a mistake.

by Andrew Skalman





3 Responses to “Headlines Making Headlines”

  1. Michelle Chen February 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    This is a great example of the need to be careful with word choice and communication in the virtual world. With such great advances in social media, users can access information conveniently. When it comes to sensitive topics like race, online users need to be even more prudent with their messages. I feel like a lot of the Lin puns had some racial context to it but since those were created by fans, those posts were not treated as seriously. However, ESPN is an internationally renowned brand. By hopping on the bandwagon with the racial puns, ESPN found themselves risking their brand image.

  2. Jacqueline Chen March 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Really interesting post. Though it’s not really sure whether or not it was intentional since “chink in the armor” has been a phrase for a while and that the anchor has used it many times before Jeremy Lin even entered the NBA, race is always a sensitive topic. It’s extra important for big companies like ESPN to not step on any toes.

  3. Mike McGovern March 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Wow! Really interesting post!

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