Two days ago, SB Nation published “Who Is Daniel Holtzclaw?”, a long, sympathetic piece on the 29-year-old Oklahoma City police officer who was tried, convicted and ultimately sentenced in December to 263 years in jail for serially raping black women while on duty. The story was immediately and angrily criticized, and after a few hours, the piece was pulled and eventually replaced with a note from Spencer Hall, SB Nation’s editorial director. You can read a cached version of the article here.
Deadspin has obtained a memo that Kevin Lockland, SB Nation’s vice president of editorial operations, sent out to all of Vox Media this morning. In it, Lockland explained that the site has severed ties with Jeff Arnold, the freelancer who wrote the story. There will also be a peer review led by Vox Media editorial director Lockhart Steele during which SB Nation’s Longform program will be inactive. You can read the memo in full here:
To all our colleagues at Vox Media,
I want to follow up on the publication and subsequent removal of the Daniel Holtzclaw story on SBNation.com this week, and to let everyone know about the steps we are taking to prevent similar situations.
On behalf of SB Nation, I apologize to everyone at Vox Media. You have every right to be angry and disappointed. We are committed to taking appropriate actions to earn back your trust, which we know will take time.
We are launching an internal peer review on the process and sequence of events that led up to our publication of this story as well as systemic and organizational factors ranging from how our team is resourced to our efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive culture. Because the review involves my team, I cannot be involved as an objective reviewer. Vox Media Editorial Director Lockhart Steele will lead the review, about which he’ll have more to say.
While the review is being conducted, we have agreed with Lock to put the SB Nation longform program on temporary hiatus. Following the peer review, before we resume longform publishing, we’ll make whatever adjustments are necessary to prevent something like this from happening again. In addition, we are severing ties with the freelancer who wrote the story and will not be working with him again.
Finally, I would like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to speak to me directly to please reach out. I will make the time to listen. I want every voice inside our company to be heard.
While we cannot undo the damage here, we will learn from this situation. Please know that we take responsibility for the poor judgment that was exercised in this instance and remain committed to Vox Media values. Taking into account the people at SB Nation, the support from Lock, Jim and others, you have my commitment that we will do better.
Going by what we’ve heard, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Glenn Stout, proprietor and editor of the Longform vertical, is done at SB Nation.
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