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Daily Beast Reporter Offers Tepid Apology Seven Months After Outing Athletes At Rio Games

Nico Hines was reinstated as a senior editor for the site.

Reporters covering the Rio Summer Olympics last August found themselves exploring for all kinds angles, but the Daily Beast's Nico Hines drew ire when, in a piece on the sex lives of Olympians, he carelessly included details identifying athletes using Grindr.

In his piece (since removed from the site), Hines, who is heterosexual and married, described downloading Grindr and presenting to gay Olympians as a gay man looking to have sex. Not only could exposing the men he communicated with cause them embarassment, but for those coming from countries where homosexuality is illegal, it could land them in prison.

Journalists, activists and other athletes expressed their outrage, including out skier Gus Kenworthy, who tweeted that Hines "basically just outed a bunch of athletes in his quest to write a shitty @thedailybeast article where he admitted to entrapment."

At first the piece was titled “I got three Grindr dates in an hour in the Olympic Village” (because clicks) but it was later edited to “The Other Olympic Sport in Rio: Swiping.” Hines was pulled from Rio and descriptions of the men and women’s profiles were removed from the article.

Jack Guez, Getty Images

USA's J'den Michael Tbory Cox (red) wrestles with Iran's Alireza Mohammad Karimimachiani in their men's 86kg freestyle quarter-final match on August 20, 2016, during the wrestling event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

An editor's note was added by DB editor in chief John Avlon, who defended the story’s merit but said he was sorry "for any upset the original version of this piece inspired.”

Later that evening the article was removed from the Daily Beast site.

"The article was not intended to do harm or degrade members of the LGBT community, but intent doesn’t matter, impact does," read a statement on the page. "Our hope is that removing an article that is in conflict with both our values and what we aspire to as journalists will demonstrate how seriously we take our error. We screwed up. We will do better."

But Hines remained silent on the issue. Until now.

Seven months after writing “I got three Grindr dates in an hour in the Olympic Village,” he penned a first-person piece for the site apologizing for the article.

Sexuality is an area that people should talk, read and write about—but private individuals’ sex lives are only legitimate topics when they're addressed with their consent or contribute to the public good. The story about athletes using dating apps in the Olympic village did not ask consent and did not advance the public good.

The article intruded into the lives of people who had a right to be left alone. For some readers it brought up old, ugly LGBTQ stereotypes. And I didn't accurately represent myself during the reporting of the piece. These were all profound failures, and I’m sorry for them.

The lens of privilege distorted my worldview. Before writing this story, I didn’t appreciate what “check your privilege” truly meant.

I was insensitive to the fears that constantly grip some people’s lives and it was wrong to even introduce the possibility that someone's privacy could have been compromised. That fear is all the more acute in some of the countries whose athletes were gathered together inside the Olympic village. For anyone who was left in fear for their safety back home, I am truly sorry.

Since our article was published, I have received hundreds of emails reminding me that many members of the LGBTQ community do not always feel they can trust society at large and I am aware that I contributed to that fear. By failing to recognize the harm I might cause by intruding on a safe space, I was guilty of reinforcing those emotions.

My article created a charged and critical backlash, and rightly so. The Daily Beast's readers let me know how I got it wrong. I will not get it wrong again.

It's apology of sorts, though many have responded that it feels more like a permission slip to write for the Beast again. (An editor's note indicates Hines is now returning to his post as a senior editor "following a lengthy period of intense reflection.") And, of course, waiting more than half a year negates a lot of its impact.

"Sorry, Mr. Hines. Your apology may have some of the right words, but taking seven months to write those nine paragraphs isn’t enough and never will be," wrote Outsports' Cyd Zeigler, who called the apology "academic."

"It took you less than seven days to write your ill-advised piece taking aim at LGBT Olympians. Over seven months for an apology? No."

Zeigler postulates that perhaps the Daily Beast told Hines to keep silent all this time. "If they did," he responds, "you should fire them."

Below is Hines statement in full.

Seven months ago, The Daily Beast ran a story of mine that never should have been conceived, written, or published. For that, I am deeply sorry.

Sexuality is an area that people should talk, read and write about—but private individuals’ sex lives are only legitimate topics when they're addressed with their consent or contribute to the public good. The story about athletes using dating apps in the Olympic village did not ask consent and did not advance the public good. The article intruded into the lives of people who had a right to be left alone. For some readers it brought up old, ugly LGBTQ stereotypes. And I didn't accurately represent myself during the reporting of the piece. These were all profound failures, and I’m sorry for them.

The lens of privilege distorted my worldview. Before writing this story, I didn’t appreciate what “check your privilege” truly meant.

As I wrote about the dating lives of Olympians, gay and straight, men and women, I failed to consider the difference between logging on to Tinder and logging on to Grindr. I should have recognized Grindr is more than a dating app—it's become a safe space for a community which needs that safe space.

I also should have seen that it was wrong to go on any dating app without clearly identifying myself as a journalist when I was not really looking for a date.

I was insensitive to the fears that constantly grip some people’s lives and it was wrong to even introduce the possibility that someone's privacy could have been compromised. That fear is all the more acute in some of the countries whose athletes were gathered together inside the Olympic village. For anyone who was left in fear for their safety back home, I am truly sorry.

Since our article was published, I have received hundreds of emails reminding me that many members of the LGBTQ community do not always feel they can trust society at large and I am aware that I contributed to that fear. By failing to recognize the harm I might cause by intruding on a safe space, I was guilty of reinforcing those emotions.

My article created a charged and critical backlash, and rightly so.

The Daily Beast's readers let me know how I got it wrong. I will not get it wrong again.

And an editor’s note from the Daily Beast.

Last August, The Daily Beast regrettably published—then removed —a story, written by Nico Hines, from our website because the article was offensive and in conflict with both our values and what we aspire to as journalists.

Today, Nico Hines returns full-time to his position as senior editor and London-based reporter with The Beast, following a lengthy period of intense reflection. He feels strongly he should issue his own personal apology and used this article to do so.

We’ve said it before: as a newsroom we succeed together and we fail together. Our belief in this has not changed. After months of internal review and discussion—made more poignant by our current national climate —we as a newsroom are as mindful and committed as ever to the responsibility we have as independent journalists to not only tell the truth but further the public good. We will continue to stand up to bullies and bigots, value an inclusive culture and be a proud and supportive voice for the LGBTQ community.

h/t: Outsports

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