William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Food magazine has stepped down from his post, following a Buzzfeed article which revealed an email he sent to a freelance vegan food writer containing the joke suggestion for a series on “killing vegans, one by one.”
Sitwell sent the email to journalist Selene Nelson, in response to a pitch for a series of articles on vegan cookery in Waitrose Food. That email was then collated by Nelson as part of a package for a second pitch, to Buzzfeed, on a series of articles regarding hostility towards vegans in the media and online. Buzzfeed then deemed Sitwell’s email to be a story in its own right. Nelson herself has said on Twitter that she did not “sell” the email as an individual story; she is, though, quoted at length within the resulting article.
I didn't sell it. I pitched BuzzFeed an article exploring the hostility vegans often face, using WS's email as just one example of it. BuzzFeed wanted to run the story themselves as a news piece rather than a thought piece. I didn't get paid for it or have any editorial control.— Selene Nelson Ⓥ (@Selene_Nelson) October 30, 2018
Sitwell, who yesterday apologised for any offence caused by his comments, had been the magazine’s editor for 20 years. He reiterated his apology this morning via Instagram:
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Morning all. Some news: : John Brown statement, 31.10.18. ‘John Brown Media has today announced that William Sitwell is stepping down as Editor of the Waitrose & Partners Food magazine with immediate effect. Andrew Hirsch, CEO, said: ‘I respect William’s decision and have therefore accepted his resignation. I would like to thank him for his work with ourselves and Waitrose over many years and wish him well for the future. We will work with Waitrose & Partners to appoint a new editor.’ . Waitrose statement, 31.10.18. ‘We have today been informed by John Brown Media, who produce the Waitrose & Partners Food Magazine, that William Sitwell is stepping down as Editor of Waitrose & Partners Food magazine with immediate effect. In the light of William's recent email remarks, we have told John Brown Media that we believe this is the right and proper move - we will be working with them to appoint a new editor for the magazine. We have had a relationship with William for almost 20 years and are grateful for his contribution to our business over that time.’ . Today I just want to make two points. : Firstly, to reiterate my apology to any food- and life-loving vegan who was genuinely offended by remarks written by me as an ill-judged joke in a private email and now widely reported. : Second, a word about my team on Waitrose & Partners Food. For two amazing decades I’ve worked with simply the best crew in the business. There is no more talented art director than Kerry Wakefield, my lovely deputy Jess, PA Morgan, Dr Lucy heading food, Ashleigh on features, Kat and the fab art and subbing team. Thank you - we never stopped laughing (til now!). : This issue from Jan 2017 - with a striking image taken by the gifted Jonathan Gregson - is one I’m particularly proud of. We even refused advertising from those proffering meat-based products.
The chief executive of the magazine’s publisher, John Brown Media, Andrew Hirsch, said he respected Sitwell’s decision and thanked him for his work.
Waitrose, the supermarket, said it felt that the editor’s resignation was the “right and proper move.”