Last month, the East Bay Express‘s publisher Stephen Buel unpublished some news stories that he said didn’t “live up to my editorial standards.” The East Bay Express is an alternative news publication distributed in the San Francisco Bay area.
Buel apologized, said he shouldn’t have hit delete on the articles, and promised readers to increase diversity and “create a code of conduct governing race, gender, diversity, inclusion, sexual orientation, and related topics.” But, the day after that pledge, he resigned. Buel unpublished the stories and then told the newspaper’s editor and staff, prompting the editor to say she would resign and the writer to actually resign.
Kathleen Richards, the editor of the Express, told iMediaEthics that three stories were removed. The paper tweeted that the posts have now been republished.
— East Bay Express (@EastBayExpress) July 20, 2018
Buel’s apology stated, “I also should not have unilaterally taken down the articles.” Buel wrote, “Instead, I should have respected our editorial structure and taken my feedback directly to our editorial management so that the editors and author might have addressed my concerns without permanently removing the pieces from our website. I am sorry for the way I disrespected the writer and editors involved in that coverage.”
One article referenced “white people singing along to live hip-hop songs that contained the N-word,” he explained, and he noted he used the word in a private meeting with Richards, the writer of the article Azucena Rasilla, and the managing editor when discussing the issue.
Rasilla wrote about that meeting, in which she said Buel claimed the articles were “racist against white people,” and her own resignation because of the unpublishing and meeting.
In addition to admitting to his own misstep, Buel told readers the Express planned to acknowledge and promote diversity to prevent future problems by potentially creating an internship for a “young journalist of color,” establishing a code of conduct, and other steps. Buel added, Richards, the Express’s editor, told iMediaEthics, “I am still committed to increasing the diversity at the Express. But we (the entire staff) will be discussing what our next steps will be in the coming weeks. ”
Richards also pointed to her article about the upheaval, noting that she said she would resign because she needed editorial control as editor, but agreed to stay at the paper after Buel’s resignation. Richards noted that calendar editor Beatrice Kilat also resigned because of the controversy, and the paper’s owners — Buel and his wife — are “looking to sell.”
Richards also noted that after Buel’s apology, “two women — including Jody Colley, the former publisher of the Express, and Kamala Kelkar, a former employee of the San Francisco Examiner, where Buel was one-time editor — came forward with allegations of sexual assault and sexism, respectively. (In response to Colley’s allegation, Buel admitted to ‘an inappropriate congratulatory kiss’ at the end of a Best Of party and said he ‘immediately realized the error.’)” iMediaEthics has written to the e-mail listed for Buel and Rasilla.