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Two Female Russian Athletes kissed after victory on the podium

by on March 11, 2014

Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firov, two Russian athletes were both a part of the 4x400m relay teams that won the gold medal at the Olympics this year.

The two athletes were seen kissing on the podium following their victory, and were accused of making a protest to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws that have recently been passed.

Athletes from other countries during the Olympics this year in Sochi were seen supporting gay rights after winning in their own events. Nick Symmonds of the United States and Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro each found ways of supporting homosexuality in their own ways.

The thing is, the two Russian athletes denied that their kiss was in fact to protest the laws in their own country. Instead, Ryzhova was quoted by The Guardian stating that the two athlete’s kiss was just for the team’s own happiness of winning the event over the United States and England, rather than to make any sort of statement against Russia.

Both athletes have husbands and are married, according to Ryzhova.

“It was just happiness for our team,” which has trained together for many years, Ryzhova told The Guardian on Monday. “She declined to comment on her attitude toward LGBT rights. If people want to write all sorts of dirt about us, they should at least know that Yulia and I are both married.”

Shortly following the display of the two sharing a kiss on the medal stand, many articles were published by news outlets all over the United States that this kiss was a protest against Russia. While some news organizations published this as a possibility, others such as Yahoo Sports flat out reported that this kiss meant something more.

The Associated Press article released a couple of days later ended the speculation about the kiss.

“The storm of emotions going through us was incredible. And if we, accidentally, while congratulating each other, touched lips, excuse me,” Ryzhova told the AP. “We think the whole fuss is more of a sick fantasy not grounded in anything.”

Was it ethically wrong to publish this story in the beginning in your opinion?

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3 Comments
  1. I would say that it is ethically wrong to publish a story like that. Many of the published stories did end up speculating far too much for a publication that is supposed to be subjective. It sounds like almost no one did their research beyond seeing the initial pictures/videos, and that is just poor journalism.

  2. As a nation, at least in mainstream media, this happens all the time. Trying to make anything news even when it isn’t. Yes is looked at first glance that these women were protesting Russian Gay Rights but them kissing, according to them, was nothing more than celebration. Just like an American athlete jumps and hugs their teammates after winning a big game. If they had made comments that suggested otherwise, then maybe it would be a story, but the fact that the story was a manufactured ones based purely on speculation, that is a problem in my opinion. They aren’t stories at that point, they are opinion pieces.

  3. Peter Cappiello permalink

    Admittedly, I don’t know the extent to which Maggie Hendricks of Yahoo attempted to reach out to Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firov, the two Russian athletes, for their side of the story, but if there wren’t legitimate attempts, then “reckless disregard for the truth” is the phrase that comes to mind when I read the article. And that’s not only in hindsight.

    The two subjects in the stories were just that and not sources — there were no quotes. For a claim that big, I would expect solid investigation and explanation, which would help interpret what people saw to the readership.

    I’m reminded of Mitch’s post in on the home page about Twitter and think to myself, what is the difference between this article and Joe Random tweeting that this kiss was a protest? That’s where I find the fault and it violates the “seek truth and report it” part of the SPJ code of ethics.

    Courageous attempts to seek truth didn’t seem to be shown and that is a shame. That said, I do understand that there was plenty of buzz about Putin’s anti-gay legislature, but that’s why it’s even more important to do the dirty work and not buy in to the existing media wave as truth.

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