The Austin Chronicle, a popular alternative weekly newspaper in Texas, has issued a moratorium on all sponsored content amid a slew of criticism over a since-removed ad promoting Asian mail-order brides.
The ad, posted to the Chronicle’s website June 24 as sponsored content, included links to several websites claiming to connect customers to tens of thousands of Asian women. It also ranked five countries for having the “best” Asian brides and included racist and misogynistic statements describing Asian women’s appearances and gender roles.
After drawing intense online backlash, the Chronicle removed the ad from its website and issued an apology that night.
“We appreciate your comments and for calling us out for advertisements that we believe do not reflect Chronicle values or our mission as a progressive newspaper,” said the statement, which was not signed. “Going forward we will not host any mail-order bride sponsored ads, and we will be having vigorous internal conversations about past and future sponsored posts.”
In an updated statement published in print Thursday, Cassidy Frazier, the paper’s associate publisher who oversees the advertising department, announced the moratorium and said it was her responsibility to make sure such posts “never see the light of day.”
“They do not in any way reflect the Austin Chronicle as a company nor the people who work here,” she wrote. “We messed up, and we apologize.”
She said the Chronicle is holding sensitivity training and that the moratorium will be in place until “more strenuous policies are in place.” She also began drafting guidance for her department and has worked directly with account executives to prevent similar incidents, she wrote.
The Chronicle declined to comment further Thursday.
The paper has published the same type of sponsored content, which appears to have been removed from its website, as recently as late March, while other alternative weekly papers have drawn backlash for similar ads. A webpage promoting the “best Asian mail order brides sites” remains live on the website of the East Bay Express, an alt-weekly serving the Bay Area. SF Weekly also published a “Guide To Philippines Brides” in October.
Both publications did not respond to NBC News’ requests for comment.
When Sheena Yap Chan, who hosts a podcast interviewing Asian women about self-confidence, first saw the Chronicle ad last week, she was “livid” — especially, she said, in the wake of the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, which acutely affect women, and the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
“This is unacceptable,” she said. “They knew what they were doing was wrong, but they weren’t going to take it down unless someone was going to make an uproar.”