Right-wing newspaper the Santa Barbara News-Press is bending over backward to explain itself after inserting anti-gay slurs into the byline of a Latino reporter.
Paul Gonzales, a crime reporter for the Southern Californian newspaper with three years of work under his belt, had written an article for the paper's Dec. 25 issue titled “Customers flock downtown to wrap up last-minute Christmas shopping” which normally would have carried the byline, “Paul Gonzales, News-Press Writer.”
Instead, his name was changed to “Paul Gayzalez” and his job title was changed from ‘NEWS-PRESS WRITER” to “NEWS-PRESS FAGGOAT.”
Santa Barbara website EDHAT – an acronym some claim means “Every Day Happenings Around Town” – quickly became an outlet for locals' outrage at the controversial newspaper, which is often referred to as the “Santa Barbara Noose Press” or “News-Suppress.”
“This is beyond inappropriate! How does this get past the editor and what professional news press would do this to their accomplished employee,” one user commented. “No matter who wrote that at SBNP, it's not funny or a joke. And it's Christmas! Beyond disgusted right now.”
LGBTQ rights group Pacific Pride Foundation also set up an online petition blasting the “outright homophobia” of the act, which they asserted “chips away at our understanding of common decency.”
Days later, Director of News Operations Donald Katich released an apology for the statement: “In Monday’s News-Press, one of our employees changed another employee’s byline to reflect an offensive slur. The News-Press has taken immediate and swift action with this employee; we do not tolerate any form of harassment in the workplace. We apologize to our readers.”
The apology was discreetly hidden at the bottom of page A3 near an advertisement for a local plumber.
Katich later told SF Gate that the employee responsible for the slurs, who hasn't been identified, “is represented by the Teamsters. There is a process we are obligated to follow when it comes to discipline or termination. The employee is no longer in the building.”
Santa Barbara News-Press has long been a target of ire for progressives in the Central Californian city due to its stridently right-wing and inflammatory approach to social issues. During Donald Trump's election campaign, the News-Press was the subject of news coverage after being the first newspaper in California to endorse the former host of “The Apprentice.”
In 2015, the newspaper outraged locals and immigrant rights advocates with the front-page article, "Illegals Line Up for Driver's Licenses." The dehumanizing headline was accompanied by a file photo of random brown people lined up at the DMV without specifying whether those pictured were undocumented immigrants.
The paper's use of the term "Illegals" as a noun upset many in the community – including the large community of Mexicans, Chicanos, Latinos and Indigenous people – who held massive protests in the city demanding that the newspaper alter its guidelines for usage of the word.
The newspaper never halted its usage of the word, however, and the News-Press soon became the focus of praise by white nationalists, immigrant scapegoaters and nativist hate groups across the state who asserted that the paper was simply exercising its “right to free speech.”
In 2006, the newspaper experienced a huge exodus of reporters and editors who left, citing excessive editorial interference by owner and publisher Wendy McCaw and management.