Local newspaper issues apology after headline about girls golf causes uproar in community

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AURORA, Ohio (WJW) — A local newspaper issued an apology after printing a headline that caused an uproar on social media and in the community. 

Some parents are furious about the title of a story written about female high school athletes.

“It’s such a sexualized headline, and then when you read the article, there’s a significant amount of innuendo thrown in… the title that goes with it is right under the image of an Aurora High School golfer, who is a minor,” said Sophia Loferski, a 2009 graduate of Aurora High School.

The headline that read “Girls seek a new number after spending last season on ‘all fours” was above a story on the Aurora High School girl’s golf team, printed in Wednesday’s edition of the Aurora Advocate newspaper.

The sexually suggestive wording infuriated Loferski when she read it.

“I couldn’t believe that someone not only had the gall to write the piece, but that someone else decided to print it…the phrasing in here, the blatant disregard for the respect of minors, it’s incredible,” she said.

Sophia began collecting online signatures from parents, alumni and community members on a letter she plans to send to the paper’s editor.

The newspaper released the following statement:

“A headline that appeared in the Aug. 12 edition of the Aurora Advocate and on our digital platforms regarding the Aurora High School girl’s golf team did not meet our standards. We apologize for publishing it and pledge to do better.

The headline’s language was sexist and violated a core ethical principle to treat people with respect and compassion.

We especially apologize to the members of the Aurora team. You and all high school athletes deserve fair and respectful coverage on all occasions. We will endeavor to make sure that happens in the future.

We are reviewing how this headline was published and taking steps to improve our quality control. We also are addressing the ethical breach with our staff, and while we cannot discuss personnel issues, we are taking appropriate action.

The story and headline also were published on MyTownNEO.com. The headline was revised online on Wednesday to remove the offensive language and reflect the article’s content.

We hold our journalists to high standards of ethical conduct, including an annual training program currently underway. Key components included observing standards of decency, taking responsibility for our decisions and being conscientious in observing these principles.”

“I don’t feel that the written apology that was received by the community is enough,” said Loferski.

“I know the hard work those girls are putting in all summer and into late fall. To have their dedication to the sport and to AHS summed up in such a demeaning headline is sad. I’m upset for them and their families. The Aurora Advocate absolutely needs to do better,” wrote Liz Howard in a statement to Fox 8.

Howard is a 2007 graduate who played girls golf all four years she attended Aurora High.

Aurora City Schools Superintendent Michael Roberto also released a statement:

“After seeing the inappropriate headline concerning our girls’ golf team in the Aurora Advocate, the Aurora City School District (ASCD) reached out to the Advocate to share our concerns and displeasure.  The Advocate was quick to apologize and the ACSD fully expects the Advocate to investigate how this could have been both written and published without an editor intervening.  The Advocate has been supportive of the schools in the past, but this week we were disappointed in them as this headline took away from the accomplishments of our girls’ golf team. “

“We’re a small town, everyone looks forward to seeing their friends and family reported in the paper…this was more than a mistake, it’s almost as if no one read that article,” said Loferski.

Michael Shearer, regional editor, says the paper holds journalists to high standards of ethical conduct, including an annual training program currently under way.

He told FOX 8 that he cannot discuss personnel issues, including the status of the writer, but says appropriate action is being taken.

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