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Two Canadian Newspapers Apologize After Publishing A Photo That Called A Black NHL Player "Dark Guy"

One of the publishers explain what went wrong to BuzzFeed News.

Posted on September 24, 2014, at 2:55 p.m. ET

Two Vancouver newspapers, The Vancouver Sun and The Province, are apologizing for publishing a photo caption online identifying NHL player Jordan Subban as the "dark guy in the middle."

ctvnews.ca

The publications both used the same photo and caption for their pre-season NHL coverage on Tuesday. In the photo depicting Subban gathering around Vancouver Canucks players, the accompanying description read: "Vancouver Canucks celebrate goal by Jordan Subban (dark guy in the middle) against San Jose Sharks in NHL pre season game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on September 23, 2014."

The gaffe sparked national outrage.

I cant believe this. What are they thinking. Disgraceful. http://t.co/osMmoLysI7

Tony Marinaro@TonyMarinaro

I cant believe this. What are they thinking. Disgraceful. http://t.co/osMmoLysI7

12:47 PM - 24 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Vancouver Sun and Province run same caption of Jordan Subban: "dark guy in the middle." Says a lot about moral compass of sports media here.

powder & the finger@thepowderfinger

Vancouver Sun and Province run same caption of Jordan Subban: "dark guy in the middle." Says a lot about moral compass of sports media here.

4:36 AM - 24 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

They have since both changed the caption and tweeted apologies to Subban and his fans.

Last night we ran a photo caption that should never have been written, let alone run online. We apologize to @jordansubban. (1/2)

The Vancouver Sun@VancouverSun

Last night we ran a photo caption that should never have been written, let alone run online. We apologize to @jordansubban. (1/2)

8:34 AM - 24 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

We apologize to Subban, the Canucks and their fans for any offence. We are examining our process to ensure it can never happen again. 2/2

The Province@theprovince

We apologize to Subban, the Canucks and their fans for any offence. We are examining our process to ensure it can never happen again. 2/2

11:25 AM - 24 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

In Twitter correspondence with another writer, The Vancouver Sun's Deputy Digital Editor Gillian Burnett explains that the caption was written by a photographer and that they are "looking into" the matter.

@GregBallochST That cutline, written by a photog, should NEVER have been written, let alone made it online. Egregious error that we regret.

Gillian Burnett@gillianburnett

@GregBallochST That cutline, written by a photog, should NEVER have been written, let alone made it online. Egregious error that we regret.

2:27 AM - 24 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@GregBallochST Outrage is shared. We will be looking into this further. Thanks for pointing it out.

Gillian Burnett@gillianburnett

@GregBallochST Outrage is shared. We will be looking into this further. Thanks for pointing it out.

2:34 AM - 24 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

After some investigation, the papers' Editor-in-Chief, Harold Munro, tells BuzzFeed News that the photographer used short-hand notes to identify the different players, and that they were mistakenly published.

Munro attributes the mistake to photographers filing and captioning their images that "they don't think will go live on the website":

"Writing in information will help the person on the other end identify who's in the photo," he explained over a phone call. "Usually you'd identify the players by their jersey numbers, in this case, you can't see the jersey number."

In this case, Munro said that the photographer should have identified Subban in an "appropriate" way — whether it was published or not. But "that photo [went] along with many other photos, and [got] linked to the story and posted without the Web Editor doing a read-through to make sure everything is accurate."

No action has yet been taken against the photographer or editor.

"I'm still investigating, I need to hear from all the people involved before making any decisions," said Munro. "I apologized directly to the hockey team and player Jordan Subban for any embarrassment. I feel terrible about this."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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