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Newspaper apologizes for ‘insensitive’ headline about Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel

United States' Simone Manuel celebrates winning the gold medal in the women's 100-meter freestyle during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
United States' Simone Manuel celebrates winning the gold medal in the women's 100-meter freestyle during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Associated Press

The San Jose Mercury News apologized for what it called an “insensitive” headline on its story about Simone Manuel winning an Olympic gold medal in swimming on Thursday.

Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming. The 20-year-old Stanford University student tied for first in the women’s 100-meter freestyle with Canadian Penny Oleksiak. They both set an Olympic record of 52.70 seconds.

Also on Thursday, American swimmer Michael Phelps won his record-setting 22nd Olympic gold.

The California newspaper reported both milestones online with one headline: “Phelps shares historic night with African-American.”

Social media shuddered.

Mercury News sports columnist Tim Kawakami was also moved to comment.

The paper rewrote the headline of the online story to say, “Olympics: Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps make history.”

It also added an apology on the story.

“Editor’s note: The original headline on this story was insensitive and has been updated to acknowledge the historic gold medal wins by both Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps. We apologize for the original headline. The story has also been updated.”

It tweeted the apology as well.

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