Wednesday September 24th, 2014

The Vancouver Sun is blaming a photographer for writing a racially insensitive caption that has the Internet in a frenzy.

The caption, which appeared on the website of both the Sun and the Vancouver Province on Wednesday, highlighted prospect Jordan Subban as the “dark guy in the middle” of a group of celebrating Canucks.

Gillian Burnett, the Sun's digital deputy editor and amateur master of the obvious, explained on Twitter that the caption should never have seen the light of day.

"That cutline, written by a [photographer], should NEVER have been written, let alone made it online. Egregious error that we regret," she tweeted. She added that the paper will be looking into the incident.

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What they'll probably find is a mortified photographer and a time-crunched online producer. The photographer, charged with identifying the players in the shot, should have recognized there were two Canucks to the left of Subban and two more to his right, making a description of “middle” perfectly appropriate and negating any need to call attention to the color of Subban's skin. The ID may not have been ill-intentioned but it suggests a level of insensitivity that's probably going to lead to some training.

As insensitive as that decision was, it's the editor's mistake that's so galling ... and I say that as someone who earned a week off after allowing a blue phrase to slip into print early in my own editing career. It's easy to understand that a caption can be blindly copied and pasted under the gun of a deadline, but that's not the same as an excuse. Something like this just can't happen. Subban, who had just scored his first goal in an NHL sweater, deserved better.

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