Two days after publishing a 12,000-word opus that appeared to paint former police officer and convicted rapist Daniel Holtzclaw in a positive light, SB Nation has announced a hiatus for its longform program, according to a a memo obtained by Deadspin’s Greg Howard.
The memo, written by Kevin Lockland, SB Nation’s vice president of editorial operations and addressed to the entirety of Vox Media, apologizes for the lack of editorial oversight and the publication of the piece and also states that Lockhart Steele, Vox Media’s editorial director, will spearhead an internal review that will aim to uncover just how the piece came to pass through multiple layers of editors.
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.
The memo follows a public apology posted on SB Nation by Spencer Hall, the site’s editorial director, in which Hall said the piece, authored by Jeff Arnold, who Lockland pledged the site would never work with again, was “a complete breakdown of a part of the editorial process at SB Nation.”