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 on the Chronicle's website June 24 as sponsored content, included links to several websites that claimed to connect customers to tens of thousands of Asian women. It also ranked five countries as having the best Asian brides and included racist and misogynistic statements describing Asian women's appearances and gender roles.
After drawing a lot of online backlash, the Chronicle removed the ad from its website and issued an apology that night.
The statement, which was not signed, said that 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. We will not host any mail-order bride sponsored ads, and we will have vigorous internal conversations about past and future sponsored posts going forward. In an update to the statement published in print Thursday, Cassidy Frazier, the paper's associate publisher who oversees the advertising department, said it was her responsibility to make sure such posts never see the light of day. She wrote that they did not reflect the Austin Chronicle as a company or the people who work here. We apologize and we messed up. She said the moratorium will be in place until more strenuous policies are in place, and that the Chronicle is holding sensitivity training. She began drafting guidance for her department and has worked directly with account executives to prevent similar incidents, she wrote.
The Chronicle wouldn't say anything further Thursday.
The paper has published sponsored content that appears to have been removed from its website recently as late March, while other alternative weekly papers have drawn backlash for similar ads. A Guide To Philippines Brides was published in October by SF Weekly.
When Sheena Yap Chan, who hosts a podcast interview about Asian women about self-confidence, first saw the Chronicle ad last week, she was livid — particularly because of the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, which affect women, and the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade.
She said this is unacceptable. 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.