jezebel

Full disclosure: I love Jezebel. But my love for the site may have to end. Jezebel was one of the first sites geared towards women that I started reading when Anna Holmes created it. I loved the snarky writing on subjects ranging from feminist issues to the newest celebrity break up. I looked up to and admired Holmes, because not only was she a black woman starting her own site from the ground up, but she’s a pioneer in the webspace. Shortly after starting Jezebel, Holmes hired Dodai Stewart. Although Holmes is no longer with Jezebel, Stewart is currently one of the original players at the site. She’s gone from writer to Deputy Editor since starting in 2007. Stewart by far is my favorite writer on the site, and pretty much the only reason I still visit till this day.

Months back, the search for a new Editor-in-Chief for Jezebel began. From the outside looking in, and from the inside looking in, you’d think Stewart would have been the immediate choice. But that didn’t happen.

From Capital New York:

Stewart is one of the few women of color on Jezebel’s masthead and the longest-serving staffer at the site, having been hired by founding editor Anna Holmes shortly after the site launched in 2007. In the past year, she has also assumed a larger role in running the site, three people familiar with the site’s internal workings told Capital.

Coen, the site’s editor-in-chief, has had to split her time between her home in Chicago and Gawker Media’s New York office, and Stewart has frequently stepped in to manage Jezebel’s day-to-day operations.

According to one staffer, Stewart’s experience with the site and familiar presence made her the staff’s choice to replace Coen.

“From the get go, I think the staff was really supportive of Dodai, because she’s wonderful at her job and has been doing it for so long. I know we were all really rooting for her,” the person said.

As Capital first reported in May, Stewart was a leading internal candidate for the position. A source close to her said that she had met with Gawker editorial director Joel Johnson in late April to talk about taking the top job, and Johnson told Capital in May that she would make an excellent candidate.

Instead of promoting Stewart to the EIC role, Gawker decided to go with 25-year-old Emma Carmichael current co-editor of The Hairpin.  And not everyone is too happy about the decision.

“I wouldn’t say that we’re unhappy with Emma at all, but…we had like a really optimal choice that they passed over,” one anonymous staffer told Capital.

“From the get go, I think the staff was really supportive of Dodai, because she’s wonderful at her job and has been doing it for so long. I know we were all really rooting for her,” the person said.

According to Capital, Stewart was in the lead for the position. A source said that Stewart met Gawker editorial director Joel Johnson in late April to talk about taking the top job, and Johnson told Capital in May that she would make an excellent candidate. But unfortunately that will never happen.

So how did Stewart find out she didn’t get the job? Well the same we everyone found out Carmichael got the job– via a post on Buzzfeed.   So where does that leave Stewart? She’ll remain on the site as deputy editor, but she’s also hinting at a possible exit.

Stewart told  Capital that she had not made any decisions yet.

“I like my job, and I’m considering what my options are,” she said.

From Capital:

But the decision to hand the site to a young white woman instead of Stewart—a black woman who has been working at the site since Carmichael was still in college—rubs some current and former staffers the wrong way, especially since the site has been criticized in the past for its handling of race issues.

“I would not say that I think it is like a racist action, but it is kind of a missed opportunity,” one staffer said. “The race thing would have been a really wonderful—just like to have a really well-established Black woman who is so good at her job running the site would have been great.”

“But that’s not the crux of what’s disappointing about Dodai not getting the job,” the staffer added. “She deserves it.”

When asked why she had picked Carmichael over Stewart, Coen said the decision was not hers to make.

“I was involved with narrowing down the list of candidates and gave my input up to a point, but the final decision wasn’t mine to make. At the end of the day, Nick decides who sits at the top of every masthead,” she said.

According to Gawker owner Nick Denton, Carmichael will add a new direction to the site.  “Emma only starts in September. The direction of the site will be determined not by my premature words, but by Emma’s actions, and the response of the wider readership. So that’s all I can tell you,” he said.

Smells like bullshit.

#SolidarityisforDodai

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  • Eliah Ryan

    #solidarityisforwhitewomen as was prophesied by anon.

  • jollyholiday

    This is ridiculous, even if we put aside how qualified Dodai is, Emma Carmichael is a terrible choice, I don’t even know what they are thinking. She took over The Hairpin almost a year ago and that site has completely fallen apart, the readers fled and the content went to shit. How is she being trusted with an even bigger website? She literally just failed upwards, ugh.

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  • C.

    The few times I went to the Jezebel website it always gave me a lily-white with colored sprinkles to coax in the “post-racial” crowd vibe. They intend to stay that course obviously and I will continue to not read or even think about them. I hope Dodai starts her own site, I would visit it gladly. #solidarityisfordodai