You know something has gone badly wrong when a story that is less than 800 words long has to be defended with an editor’s note of 300 words. That’s certainly the case with the Beast’s badly mangled story about sex at the Olympics. Reporter Nico Hines, who is straight, joined a bunch of dating sites such as Bumble, Grindr, Jack’d, and Tinder to see what action he could pick up at the Olympics. But he focused most of his article on the response he got from the gay site Grindr and included in it potentially identifying details about closeted athletes from nations where being out could have serious personal and legal repercussions. Naturally this provoked a wave of revulsion and criticism.
Responding to reader objections, editor John Avlon denied the report was homophobic, but did say that the piece has been substantially re-edited to address these concerns. The current version of the article removes all identifying details about the athletes. The larger question worth asking is: Even with all these changes, was this piece worth running?