Variety Editor in Chief Claudia Eller, who wrote an opinion piece about the lack of diversity in the staff, was placed on a two-month administrative leave after a heated Twitter spat with a former reporter at a rival outlet, according to reports.
Journalist Piya Sinha-Roy, who is of South Asian descent, slammed Eller’s piece on Twitter, writing that she remembered a conversation with Eller and co-editor Andrew Wallenstein years ago about a “lack of diversity in your newsroom,” the LA Times reported.
Sinha-Roy said voices of people of color “are constantly dismissed. We are not here to make you look better. We are here to work” – prompting Eller to slam her on Twitter as “bitter.”
The tweet offended staffers at Variety, which is owned by Penske Media Corp., controlled by auto scion Jay Penske, who called Eller’s comment “plainly unacceptable.”
“She should have been listening vs. putting up a fight, and allowing for others to be heard and to heal,” Penske said, adding in a note to the staff that Business Editor Cynthia Littleton would assume Eller’s role on an interim basis, according to the newspaper.
In a memo she sent to her staff, Eller apologized for her remarks and called them “insensitive and ignorant.”
“The last few months have been an incredibly stressful and challenging time, for everyone. That said, there is no excuse for the Twitter exchange I had with Piya last night,” Eller wrote.
“I completely understand your anger and upset at me; it is not at all misplaced. I am so ashamed, humiliated and regretful for my actions and the pain it has caused both internally and externally. I sent a direct message to Piya to apologize profusely for my insensitive and ignorant remarks, which I made in a moment when what I should have been doing was listening,” she continued.
“After a very tough and emotional conversation with Jay this afternoon, I am recognizing that my many years as a journalist did not necessarily prepare me for a leadership role in such a large and thriving newsroom,” Eller wrote.
“I sincerely hope that, when the time is right, each of you would consider giving me a chance to rejoin this great organization and someday make you proud. As I said, I have a lot of thinking, working, and changing to do.”