Maybe William Sitwell shouldn't have had to resign. But most people don’t delude themselves that they can be as rude as they like at work without facing any reprisalby Stephanie Boland / November 1, 2018 / Leave a comment
“‘Killing vegans’ foodie gets chop,” ran the Evening Standard headline on William Sitwell’s resignation from Waitrose Food magazine. The former editor stepped down this week after he sent a rude e-mail sent to a freelance journalist who pitched a column of vegan recipes. (You can read the exchange here.) In response, various writers and editors have expressed outrage. Should he really have to lose his job over a private e-mail? Wasn’t it just a joke? Can’t we make those anymore?
Whether or not you believe that Sitwell’s e-mail should constitute a resigning offence—and I’m inclined to think it shouldn’t, although there is of course the awkward fact that Waitrose’s brand relies on pleasing customers his comments will be highly displeasing to—it seems bizarre to argue it was not an offence at all.
Journalists, always keen to analyse the habits of our own, seem particularly distressed by Sitwell’s resignation. On Twitter, the profession’s hideous public water cooler, various established writers have bemoaned what they see as an unwillingness on the part of their younger peers to understand the time-honoured rhythms of the industry.
These apparently include the right to make crude jokes, to be rude to all and sundry, and to send snippy remarks to relieve the frustration of responding to e-mails pitching the type of work your publication specifically requires. Journalists must have a thick skin and roll-with-the-punches a…