Media

The Herald’s Thursday Cover Was “Offensive and Irresponsible,” Michelle Wu Says

The city councilor criticized the outlet, saying the image promoted stereotypes used to mock Asian-American people.


michelle wu

Photo via AP/Elise Amendola

The Boston Herald’s cover story Thursday was an important one, regarding a lack of transparency in the governor’s office and potentially irresponsible spending of taxpayer dollars—however, for some, the art that accompanied the story obscured its message.

The story, written by Joe Dwinell, a senior editor at the Herald, and Herald reporter Mary Markos, contains a detail about a Chinese takeout order House Speaker Robert DeLeo made for Beacon Hill staffers this April as the lawmakers deliberated over the state budget. The order, which reportedly cost over $4,000, was paid for with the House’s taxpayer-funded credit card, the story recounts.

In a nod to this detail, the Herald’s cover art this morning was a Photoshopped image of Charlie Baker standing in a takeout container of fried rice. Alongside the box is a fortune cookie, with a fortune reading “taxpayers will not be happy.” The headline? “Wok Tall.”

Michelle Wu, the first Asian-American woman to serve on Boston’s city council, was quick to raise her concerns over the image, saying that the “offensive and irresponsible” image promoted stereotypes that mock Asian-American people.

“The Herald should recognize the harmful impact of using racially charged images and take responsibility, especially because for children of color, every mockery can create anxiety and undermine what all our kids deserve—to feel that they truly belong in this country and community they call home,” she says in a statement posted to her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

According to her statement, Wu, Dwinell, and Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca had “direct conversations” about the image this morning, in which the Herald editors “expressed an understanding of the importance of words and images.” The image remained up on the Herald’s website, and tweets promoting the cover were still posted to Sciacca’s and Dwinell’s Twitter pages as of Thursday afternoon.

“The front page was purely a reference to Chinese food,” Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca said, in a follow-up story written by Dwinell and published this afternoon. “But when a concern is raised that the words or images we use are hurtful, we do need to listen and apologize.”

Read Wu’s full statement below. We’ve reached out for comment to the Herald and will update if we hear back.