Offensive Slideshow Roundup… Comparing the Earthquake and Tsunami to Sports?

Posted by Jorge Suarez

Japan

I wish I had a better image to show you, but this a screen capture of a slideshow that really existed.  "Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: The Worst Natural Disasters in Sports History".

Here is the front page mention:

Frontpage

The CEO of the website published an apologetic response which surely more people saw than the actual piece itself:

March 11, 2011 – Earlier today, a Bleacher Report contributor posted an extremely insensitive piece comparing the devastation in Japan to natural disasters that have affected U.S. sporting events.

While the author did not intend to be insensitive to the terrible event in Japan, this concept and accompanying content were completely inappropriate and should not have been posted. To make matters worse, the piece was moved to our homepage in an initial effort to increase its visibility.

We deeply regret the posting and promotion of such content and we apologize to the people of Japan and to our readers for this clear lapse in judgment.

The senior leadership at Bleacher Report accepts responsibility for this unfortunate incident. Posting rights for the contributor who initiated the piece have been suspended and the actions of the editors involved are being reviewed.

As we’ve posted previously, Bleacher Report is making an immediate cash donation to the Red Cross relief fund and will continue to provide support to those efforts. Our thoughts remain with the people of Japan as they attempt to overcome this unimaginable tragedy.

Sincerely,
Brian Grey

Chief Executive Officer
Bleacher Report

The listed comments, which suspiciously are mostly supportive of the site, hail the many quality writers and would hate to see one bad writer take them down.

However, I found one person's comment to be right on:

Peter Barber posted 19 hours ago

Nope I was all done with my better things to do and had plenty of time to call a spade a spade. This isn’t just 2 or 3 people who screwed up this morning, this is 2 or 3 people who I think thought they were doing their jobs by fashioning an article that show up in as many search queries as possible. If anyone had seen the original article before it was edited you would see how transparent their attempt to drive search engine optimization was before the title was edited for the front page. They just happened to do it about a topic that was horribly inappropriate this time. Therefore I think a lot of the responsibility for this lies with the company itself and their business practices regarding SEO, which Mr. Grey has to this point not apologized for. And until he does, I think it’s a hollow apology. Don’t just try to play it off like it’s some isolated incident when it’s not.

This commenter who identifies himself as Peter Barber is 100% correct.  This particular site is a content factory that accumulates pageviews and search engine hits, and sells advertising based on the number of pageviews.

Barber also points out in another comment that an editor purposely changed the headline and placed the piece on the front page to gain exposure.  And this writer, who is likely a college student with hopes of a writing career, cannot even post on the site anymore.

I find it curious that the editors chose to keep the page entact here, and to ask for donations in place of the offensive article.   They continue to rack up pageviews and advertising revenue.  Comments on the page are disabled.

I also find it curious that they choose to allow reader comments on this CEO letter.  People engaging in a conversation = more pageviews = more revenue.