Buzzfeed Writer Quits After Story Slamming Advertiser Is Deleted

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A writer for Buzzfeed resigned on Monday after a story she wrote criticizing a Buzzfeed advertiser was pulled and then later reposted by site Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.

Writer, Arabelle Sicardi tweeted about her resignation on Monday saying, “My formal statement on my leaving BuzzFeed: It’s been real.”

Sicardi was upset when a post she wrote about Dove soap was pulled by editors because it was “not consistent” with the editorial policy. The writer had felt that a recent Dove ad was built on body shaming. “Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled ‘Beautiful’ Or ‘Average’ In Latest Campaign,” she wrote as criticism of the campaign.

It is clear that Sicardi was never satisfied with how her post was treated even though, not long after it was pulled, Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith reposted the piece with an apology.

The piece now sports a disclaimer at the top saying, “This post was inappropriately deleted amid an ongoing conversation about how and when to publish personal opinion pieces on BuzzFeed. The deletion was in violation of our editorial standards and the post has been reinstated.”

After the writer quit, Buzzfeed editor Julie Gerstein passed an email to staff on Monday saying, “Just wanted to send a note out to let you guys know that sadly Arabelle has decided to move on to pursue other ventures. We are deeply sad to see her go, and will miss her, but we know she is going to do amazingly cool projects and insightful, passionate work in the future. Her last day will be April 24, so come say hi and hang until then!”

Explaining himself, Ben Smith said he “blew it.”

I blew it. Twice in the last couple of months, I’ve asked editors — over their better judgment and without any respect to our standards or process — to delete recently published posts from the site. Both involved the same thing: my overreaction to questions we’ve been wrestling with about the place of personal opinion pieces on our site. I reacted impulsively when I saw the posts and I was wrong to do that. We’ve reinstated both with a brief note.

You also have the right to ask about whether we did this because of advertiser pressure, as Gawker suggested. The answer is no. I field complaints all the time from companies and individuals, including advertisers, and see it as my job to shield you from that pressure.

We obviously need to do a better job of giving guidance to writers and editors on the place of personal opinion on the site. That’s an ongoing conversation in which I’d love your input, and we’ll keep you posted.

We’ll have a quick all-edit meeting at 5:00 EST in the back canteen in New York if you’ve got questions; we’ll circulate dial-in information for other offices.

Looks like attacking political opponents and conservatives is fair game, but when it comes to attacking advertisers, well, apparently money trumps.

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