A local newspaper has apologised after a rogue employee altered copy to include homophobic slurs.
Eyebrows were raised by a number of strange tweaks in the Christmas Day edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press, the newspaper for Santa Barbara, California.
The newspaper featured an article by reporter Paul Gonzalez, but printed his name as ‘Paul Gayzalez’.
His byline had also been changed from ‘Reporter’ to ‘News-Press Faggoat’.
Readers were baffled by the homophobic slurs – with several taking to Twitter to ask whether it was some kind of twisted Christmas joke.
But the newspaper has since put out a statement attributing the blame to a rogue employee.
In the apology, printed in Wednesday’s paper, Director of News Operations Donald Katich explains: “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.”
He told SFGate: “It was a very poor decision made by an employee who is no longer in a position to make that same mistake. The employee is no longer in the building.
“There is a process we are obligated to follow when it comes to discipline or termination.”
It is unclear which employee was behind the incident, or why Gonzalez was targeted.
It’s not the first time a local paper has found itself at the centre of a controversy.
In the piece, published in the Kentish Gazette newspaper, a reporter writing under a pseudonym took aim at the well-known local woman’s appearance, before explaining he had showed her picture to dozens of members of the public to quiz them about her gender.
It read: “One argument advanced by such people is that they have women’s brains, but are in men’s bodies.
“In Canterbury, there’s a very obvious transperson. Well, I say transperson, but it’s just a bloke with a feminine haircut who wears women’s clothing.
“With that in mind, I conducted a little experiment. I showed a picture of this person – I happen to know his name – to five women between 23 and 71 and asked them what they thought
“Each correctly said they were looking at a man. Four out of five said something even mroe telling: that he has no idea how to dress as a woman.
“In other words, to their minds he does not possess what could be reasonably be [sic] called a feminine brain.
“It’s here, therefore, that it seems impossible to disagree with Germaine Greer when she says that dressing up a a woman and calling yourself one does not actually make you one.”
Greer, cited in the column, famously said: “Just because you lop off your d**k and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a f***ing woman.
“I’ve asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I’m going to wear a brown coat but that doesn’t turn me into a f***ing cocker spaniel.”
The newspaper has since apologised for the article.
Kentish Gazette reporter Alex Claridge, who penned the article under the pseudonym, was suspended after the incident along with editor Bob Bounds.
The Kentish Gazette later published a retraction.
It read: “The Gazette has come in for heavy criticism over the publication of last week’s Harry Bell column, which included an item about transgender issues.
“When you get things wrong, the best course of action is to hold your hands up and say sorry. Last week’s column did get it wrong – badly wrong.
“We feel it is appropriate to dedicate our letters pages to the many messages we have had criticising the comments contained in the article.
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“Harry Bell has never purported to be the Voice of the Gazette, nor to represent the views of anyone other than the author.
“However, we must take responsibility for providing the platform for such opinions to be aired.
“Over the course of its long history, the Gazette has prided itself on fighting for the community it serves.
“That includes ALL those who help make the Canterbury area such a diverse and wonderful place to live.
“Over the coming weeks we will be attempting to rebuild links with those upset by last week’s column and will ensure we learn from our mistake.”