Home>Highlight>Asbury Park Press, Gannett face lawsuit after ‘fucking hot nurse, a total JAP’ photo caption

(Image: Asbury Park Press.)

Asbury Park Press, Gannett face lawsuit after ‘fucking hot nurse, a total JAP’ photo caption

Mike Reed, Paul D’Ambrosio, Gustavo Martínez Contreras named in defamation claim

By David Wildstein, June 23 2022 5:38 pm

The Asbury Park Press is facing a defamation lawsuit from a pediatric nurse from Lakewood after a photojournalist posted her photo on the newspaper’s website was the caption  “a fucking hot nurse, a total JAP, loads a syringe with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.”

The woman, whose name is part of the public record but being withheld by the New Jersey Globe to respect her privacy, claims the photograph caption, which prompted the firing of Gustavo Martínez Contreras last year, was laced with “profanity, misogynism and a derogatory ethnic slur” were made maliciously had has caused her “extreme mental anguish, anxiety and distress.”

“A Google search with ‘hot nurse, total JAP’ resulted in hundreds of thousands of results  that direct readers to the photo gallery defaming the defendant,” her attorney Yosef Jacobovitch, alleged in his court filing.

Martínez took the photo when the woman was administering vaccinations in Lakewood.

Shortly before the Asbury Park Press published the photo and caption, the woman said she was told by her employer, the Center for Health, Education, Medicine and Dentistry (CHEMED), that she was in line for a management position.

But a little more than a week later, he was “advised that she was no longer being considered” for the promotion because of the photo caption.

In addition to the Asbury Park Press and Gannett, the woman is suing Martinez, executive editor Paul D’Ambrosio, and Gannett CEO Mike Reed.  None of  the defendants responded to the lawsuit, which was filed in March.

CHEMED was not named in the lawsuit, which was first reported by The Lakewood Scoop.

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

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.

Court records indicate that the caption was online for fourteen hours.

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).

Murphy called the caption “completely, utterly unacceptable, really offensive,” and suggested  that someone should lose their job over that.

Martinez appears to have been fired after Murphys’ comments.

The Lakewood Scoop reported that the Lakewood Township and the local Board of Education cut their ties with the Asbury Park Press as a result of the photo caption.

Martínez was 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 against Asbury Park and Belmar claiming his civil rights were violated.

That lawsuit is in the progress of being settled, although all parties have requested a series of extensions, court records show.

Spread the news:

 RELATED ARTICLES