A race and inclusion editor for USA Today’s Sports Media Group wrote in a blog post published Friday that she was fired over an inaccurate tweet about the Colorado shooting, and accused the media company of being “subservient to white authority.”
In her Medium post, the editor, Hemal Jhaveri, opened by saying, “I am no longer employed at USA TODAY, a company that was my work home for almost eight years.”
Gannett, which publishes USA Today and hundreds of local newspapers, said in a statement to CNN Business that it holds its “employees accountable” to the principles of “diversity, equity and inclusion.”
“While we can’t discuss personnel matters and don’t want to comment on the specifics of her statements on Medium, we firmly believe in and stand by our principles of diversity and inclusion,” a spokesperson said.
Jhaveri wrote that she was fired after she faced criticism and harassment online over a tweet she posted “responding to the fact that mass shooters are most likely to be white men.” The tweet in question said, wrongly, “It’s always an angry white man. always.” Jhaveri admitted in her post that it was a “dashed off over-generalization.”
She said she apologized and deleted the tweet. “It was a careless error of judgement, sent at a heated time, that doesn’t represent my commitment to racial equality. I regret sending it,” she wrote.
Jhaveri said that on Tuesday “several high profile alt-right Twitter accounts picked up the tweet as an example of anti-white bias and racism against whites.” She said she experienced threats and harassment online and that by the end of the day USA Today had “relieved me of my position.”
“I had always hoped that when that moment inevitably came, USA TODAY would stand by me and my track record of speaking the truth about systemic racism,” Jhaveri wrote. “That, obviously, did not happen.”
Jhaveri declined to speak further on her experience when contacted by CNN Business.
Jhaveri started as a social media editor when she joined USA Today in 2013 and then worked as a writer before becoming an editor.
In Friday’s post, Jhaveri, who identifies as Indian American, alleged that she faced “constant micro-aggressions and outright racist remarks” while working at USA Today. She alleged the company “never offered public, institutional support” when she experienced fallout from her columns — most recently a piece about Oral Roberts University’s anti-LGBTQ policy.
Jhaveri mentioned several instances in which White employees at USA Today were able to keep their jobs despite inappropriate behavior, including the paper’s editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll publishing a blackface photo in her college yearbook. Carroll later apologized.
Jhaveri accused USA Today of “trumpeting its commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion” but then contradicting its commitment with its actions. Gannett, like other newsrooms last year, made public commitments to improve the diversity of its newsroom. Last August, Gannett shared data on gender, racial and ethnic diversity of its newsrooms and created 60 jobs to expand its coverage of inequities in the US.
“We must create environments where all staffers, at all levels, are empowered to speak up, challenge and lead. We need leadership that listens and acts,” editor-in-chief Carroll wrote at the time. “When we fall short, we must own it and address it.”
But Jhaveri accused USA Today and its leadership of falling short when it came to supporting her and other diverse voices at the company.
“So many newsrooms claim to value diverse voices, yet when it comes to backing them up, or looking deeper into how white supremacy permeates their own newsrooms, they quickly retreat,” Jhaveri wrote.
“Like many places, USA TODAY values ‘equality and inclusion,’ but only as long as it knows its rightful place, which is subservient to white authority,” she added.