Editor at The New Yorker says she was fired after raising concerns over racial inequality and gender disparity

Erin Overbey tweeted that she was fired just one week after alleging The New Yorker editor-in-chief deliberately inserted errors into her work

Meredith Clark
New York
Monday 25 July 2022 17:31 BST
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A staffer at The New Yorker claims she was fired shortly after raising concerns about gender inequality and diversity and inclusion at the magazine.

Erin Overbey – the magazine’s archive editor and Classics newsletter editor – said in a 35-tweet thread on Monday that The New Yorker launched a review into her performance on 17 June, three days after she sent an email issuing her concerns about gender inequality in the workplace.

Overbey’s termination comes just one week after she alleged editor-in-chief David Remnick inserted “factual inaccuracies” into her work and was later reprimanded for them.

“So the @New Yorker has fired me, effective immediately. I’m speaking with the union about potentially filing a grievance on the termination. But here are some things that I will say,” she began the Twitter thread, which has since gained more than 13,000 likes and over 2,600 retweets.

Overbey explained that the New Yorker has yet to contest the series of events which she claims led to her firing: one, that she was “put under a performance review” shortly after sending an email “raising concerns about gender inequality and inclusion at the magazine”; two, several errors which were cited in an email “reprimanding” her during the performance review were not actually written by Overbey; and three, that “these were errors that David Remnick added to the copy.”

In September, Overbey previously called attention to The New Yorker’s lack of diversity in a tweet-thread highlighting the lack of BIPOC individuals who have been published in the magazine throughout its 96-year history. She mentioned in the thread that “less than 0.01 per cent” of print feature and critics pieces have been edited by a Black editor during editor-in-chief David Remnick’s 15 year tenure.

“Whenever you raise concerns, criticisms, or alarms about one of the most powerful institutions in media, they will use every tool at their disposal to oppose you,” Overbey said in her most recent thread. “That is their prerogative.”

“But I will defend myself in the strongest of terms,” she added.

The former archive editor explained that she’s been tracking The New Yorker’s diversity data since 2019. In one tweet, Overbey highlighted a specific moment during The New Yorker Union’s bargaining session with publisher Condé Nast, in which one union member claimed the company referred to “diverse hires” as separate from “the right hire” because they “take longer” to hire.

Overbey went on to say that the preceding male archive editor was paid 20 per cent more than she was during her employment, even though he possessed no prior background in archival work compared to her 17 years of experience.

“The magazine didn’t inform me about his lack of archive qualifications when he was hired and I only found out about it later,” Overbey tweeted. “This seemed to me to be highly problematic vis a vis gender equality and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and I spoke up about this.”

The magazine apparently fought back against her claims of gender and racial disparity, says Overbey, when they “hit [her] with an allegation of an instance of self-plagiarism.”

“I’m sure the accusations from the magazine and its allies will come and will be swift. As I’ve said, it’s their prerogative. I’ll try to respond to any and all that come,” she tweeted. “What can’t be disputed, however, are the facts as I have presented them – since I have the documentation, screen shots and emails to back everything up.”

The viral Twitter thread was shared just one week after Overbey tweeted – prior to her termination – that she had been reprimanded for a number of “factual inaccuracies” added to the Classics newsletter. Overbey claims these inaccuracies were actually written by “a male colleague who knew that I was under a performance review and could be penalized or reprimanded severely for them.” She later named the male colleague as editor-in-chief David Remnick.

“I don’t pretend to understand why he did this,” Overbey wrote at the time.

In a statement to The Independent, a Condé Nast spokesperson denied the accusations: “The New Yorker prides itself on professionalism, accuracy, and adherence to the highest journalistic standards. False allegations that malign our journalistic integrity and that attack colleagues are inappropriate and unacceptable in our workplace.”

The Independent has contacted Erin Overbey for comment.

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