Deputy Editor Snubbed For Editor-In-Chief Position At Popular Women’s Site ‘Jezebel’

July 9, 2014  |  

Jezebel, a feminist-friendly, patriarchy-smashing, female empowerment site, is a traffic mammoth that reeled in 17 million unique viewers just last month. Who wouldn’t want to sit atop a high-profile brand like that?

As Jessica Coen steps down as editor-in-chief of the site, deputy editor Dodai Stewart would have been the obvious successor to the throne. Unfortunately for Stewart, though, she was snubbed for the position, Capital New York reports.

Instead, management opted for Emma Carmichael, editor of Hairpin, for the top seat — and not everyone is happy about it, including Jezebel’s own staff:

“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 staffer, who asked to anonymous, told Capital.

Stewart has been riding with Jezebel since June 2007, only a month after the site’s launch. Founding editor Anna Holmes, who was tapped by Gawker Media to launch Jezebel seven years ago, saw Stewart as a prime candidate for the editor-in-chief position.

“I respect and adore Dodai,” Holmes told Capital. “She has been there from the beginning and is the longest-serving staff member of the site. She is also one of the sharpest, most competent and creative people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Coen, the site’s former editor-in-chief, often had too much on her plate. Coen’s awkward attempts at work-life balance ultimately led to her decision to step down:

“My husband, mortgage, and cat are all in Chicago,” Coen told BuzzFeed in May. “I’ve been flying to New York near-weekly for 18 months now. And as much as I love those late nights spent looking for a power outlet at LaGuardia, the commuter lifestyle has lost its charm.

Stewart frequently stepped in Coen’s shoes to help her manage day-to-day operations. “Stewart’s experience with the site and familiar presence made her the staff’s choice to replace Coen,” CAP said, quoting an anonymous staffer.

Interested in the position, Stewart met with Gawker editorial editor, Joel Johnson, in late April. But since then, Stewart didn’t hear back from anyone — ’til June 24. Stewart only learned she was rejected for the job just minutes before the news broke on BuzzFeedOuch.

The decision to hand Jezebel over to a young white woman instead of Stewart, a black woman who has been working at the site for seven years, rubbed staffers the wrong way.

The anonymous staffer noted that she’s not insinuating that the snub was “racist,” but that it was a “missed opportunity.”

“…[T]o 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 said. “She deserves it.”

MadameNoire reached out to former editor Anna Holmes who declined comment on the matter.

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