The Montezuma Record recently published a story about salaries at the University of Iowa, and decided to spice things up with a dash of racism.
"The relatively high numbers of employees with names from Asia and the Near East is interesting," the Iowa newspaper wrote. "While there are SMiths [sic] and Jones, there are eleven Ahmeds to only 30 Browns."
"Hyphenated, unspellable and oriental names may get you the big bucks," it continued. The Ames Progressive highlighted the commentary on Thursday, and reported that Des Moines resident Matt Denner launched a petition demanding an apology from Record editor-in-chief Chuck Dunham.
The report "included comments that are hard to read as anything but racist and disgusting," Denner wrote. "Mr. Dunham, it's time to apologize for your paper's racist and disgusting remarks."
The story was picked up by Romenesko, who reached out to the Record for comment. Dunham said that he was unaware of the controversy because he doesn't use the Internet.
Dunham said his comment about university employees with “hyphenated, unspellable and oriental names” getting large salaries “is a clue to what’s to be found there” in the list. He didn’t see a problem with it.
I started to tell him about the online petition demanding that he apologize, but he interrupted and said, “If they want to write me a letter, that’s fine; I only deal with what’s on paper. Thank you for calling.” He then hung up.
UPDATE: Dunham further defended the article, and denied claims of racism, in an interview with the Cedar Rapids Gazette.