The Tennessean fired a low level sales staffer, donated funds to a local Muslim advocacy group and lined up sensitivity training in response to backlash from a print advertisement that predicted “Islam” would detonate a nuclear bomb in Nashville next month.
The ad generated tremendous media attention with outlets across the world covering its strange content and critics wondering how the bizarre and hateful content made it into the Sunday print edition. The ad was purchased by Arkansas-based Ministry of Future for America.
According to a story posted on The Tennessean’s website Monday, an investigation revealed that a sales executive flagged the ad for its unusual content. But a sales manager, who was fired, decided to allow the ad to publish without fully reviewing its content. The Tennessean did not name the staffer who was fired, but top executives Michael Anastasi and Ryan Kedzierski kept their jobs.
The Tennessean will donate $14,000 to the American Muslim Advisory Council, whose executive director Sabina Mohyuddin bashed the ad as hateful and possibly provoking violence against Muslims in Nashville. According to the Tennessean story, the paper cancelled future ads purchased by Future of America and refunded the nonprofit group its money.
Additionally, the newspaper’s advertising and newsroom staff will take diversity and sensitivity training.
“We have completed our review, taken action against the manager responsible, strengthened our processes to ensure this never happens again, and taken steps to mitigate the tremendous harm caused to the community,” Gannett President of Local Sales Kathy Jack-Romero said. “We apologize for publishing this ad and we specifically apologize to the Muslim community, in Nashville and more broadly. This should have never happened.”
Ads are sold, vetted and published by an independent department that has no interactions with the newspaper’s journalists, according to The Tennessean’s story.