Home>Feature>Asbury Park Press fires journalist who wrote sexist, anti-Semitic caption

Former Asbury Park Press multimedia journalist Gustavo Martinez Contreras. (Photo: Facebook.)

Asbury Park Press fires journalist who wrote sexist, anti-Semitic caption

Gannett newspaper does not include name of terminated employee — a sharp departure from how they cover others

By David Wildstein, March 23 2021 9:50 am

The Asbury Park Press appears to have fired Gustavo Martínez Contreras, the longtime photographer who used a misogynistic and offensive caption in a photo that appeared in their online edition on Sunday.

“The reporter in question is no longer with the company,” executive editor Paul D’Ambrosio said this morning.

The Gannett-owned newspaper declined to name Martínez Contreras in an editor’s note that appeared online this morning, but explained how the caption referring to an Orthodox Jewish nurse preparing to administer a COVID-19 vaccination  a  “a fucking hot nurse, a total JAP” found its way onto their website.

D’Ambrosio said that the reporter was able to upload images directly into their content management system and that as a safeguard, another set of eyes is supposed read the story and captions before it is published.  Instead, Martinez Contreras self-published his photos and captions.

“I thought someone had hacked our content management system,” D’Ambrosio said.  “In reality, it was a reporter who admitted that he did a ‘stupid, stupid thing.’”

Going forward, D’Ambrosio said, “no photo and caption will be published without another staffer looking it over, regardless of the time of day.”

D’Ambrosio said that he found out about the incident around 7:30 PM – that was approximately 11 minutes after the New Jersey Globe first reported the caption – and said that “we immediately issued an apology.”  In reality, that apology came 15 ½ hours after D’Ambrosio was notified.

The controversial caption drew sharp criticism from top political leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton), and State Sens. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Robert Singer (R-Lakewood).

Martínez Contreras is a 16-year multimedia journalist, according to his biography on the Asbury Park Press’ website.  He’s worked for the newspaper for less than two years.

In June 2020, Martínez Contreras won national headlines after Asbury Park police arrested him during a rally for George Floyd that he was covering.  Charges were dropped at the direction of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and Martínez Contreras has filed a lawsuit claiming his civil rights were violated.

In an email, D’Ambrosio declined to confirm that Martínez Contreras was the individual fired, although the New Jersey Globe has learned that he was.

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