Santa Barbara newspaper apologizes for anti-gay slurs in Christmas paper

The Santa Barbara News-Press issued an apology Wednesday after an employee’s name and byline were altered into anti-gay slurs in a story that ran in the newspaper on Christmas Day.

“In Monday’s News-Press, one of our employees changed another employee’s byline to reflect an offensive slur. The News-Press has taken immediate and swift action with this employee; we do not tolerate any form of harassment in the workplace. We apologize to our readers,” Director of News Operations Donald Katich wrote in a statement.

On a Monday story about last-minute Christmas shoppers, staff writer Paul Gonzalez’s last name and his title were changed to “Paul Gayzalez, News-Press Faggoat.”

The byline is unaltered in the online version of the story. Katich told SF Gate that the employee behind the change “is represented by the Teamsters. There is a process we are obligated to follow when it comes to discipline or termination. The employee is no longer in the building.”

The Santa Barbara News-Press made waves in fall 2016, when it became the first California newspaper to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, despite Santa Barbara voting overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton (31,001 for Clinton, 7,842 for Trump).

In 2015, the newspaper’s office was vandalized after it published a front-page headline reading “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses.”

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler