An Error, An Apology, and You

ESPN and the firing of a journalist over words.

A staff writer for ESPN wrote an article about the new NBA phenom, Jeremy Lin. He entitled his article "Chink in the Armor". Most readers interpreted this headline as an ethnic slur on Mr. Lin, and the writer was fired. When he realized what he had brought about, the writer of the offending article apologized to Mr. Lin. The latter accepted his apology. However, the CNN decision currently stands relative to the firing of the journalist.

I believe, as did Mr. Lin, apparently, that no malicious intent existed in the mind of this journalist when he wrote his story. He used similar language in other stories and simply forgot to think of the consequences of words. Words however do have serious ramifications even when no intent to harm others ever existed. We live in a fast-paced time of quick e-mails, brief texts, short voice mails, etc. It is sad to see how a career can be waylaid by sloppy speech, half-baked comments, etc. When one takes this to the next level and thinks of how speech intra-family can have unintended consequences, we see how careful one must be with how they communicate.

I had a legal writing instructor in law school who often said that every craftsman must have clean tools. The tools of the lawyer are words. He reminded us to ensure these words were sharply crafted and well-paced. This is a universal lesson. One word can ruin a career or a relationship. Use speech with precision and forethought. A failure to do so will lead to nothing that is good or constructive.

Martin Rosenfeld is a Fair Lawn family mediator and attorney. He can be contacted at: Rosenfeld@Juno.Com.

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