NJ newspaper use antisemitic epithet in photo caption

Image: Asbury Park Press
New Jersey
- A New Jersey newspaper left a photo caption with the term “JAP,” a pejorative for “Jewish American princess,” on its website for over 14 hours.

The caption in the Gannett-owned Asbury Park Press, which went with a photo of a female Orthodox nurse, read: “A fucking hot nurse, a total JAP, loads a syringe with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.” It went with a story about vaccine discrepancies for people of color on the Jersey shore.

Executive Editor Paul D’Ambrosio apologized on Monday, noting that the photo was taken in Lakewood, a large town in central New Jersey with a large haredi Orthodox population.

“As executive editor of the Asbury Park Press, I apologize deeply to women, the Lakewood Jewish community, the Asian American community and all our readers,” D’Ambrosio said. The slang word “Jap,” when not capitalized, can be used as a slur against Japanese people as well.

Along with a string of other prominent local lawmakers, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy sharply condemned the caption.

“It’s unfathomable that someone could have written that, even privately, never mind that it was published,” Murphy said in Monday’s press conference about coronavirus updates.

The “JAP” term originated in the middle part of the 20th century and has been used to slur Jewish women as overly materialistic.

Gustavo Martínez Contreras

In an updated apology on Tuesday, D’Ambrosio said “The reporter in question is no longer with the company.” He wrote that at first, the paper thought its site had been hacked. In reality, the caption went online without a normally mandated second pair of eyes.

We took immediate and significant action once we became aware of the issue, and we changed our online procedures to ensure such an event never happens again,” D’Ambrosio said.

The multimedia reporter’s name is Gustavo Martínez Contreras, who made headlines last year for being arrested while covering a racial justice protest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

The caption drew the ire of a range of local politicians, including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who called it “unfathomable.”

Source: JTA