Is new Essence managing editor the right person for the job? / Journal-isms

Michael Bullerdick, a white male, has been named managing editor of Essence, prompting Danielle Wright to ask whether he can represent the interests and views of the magazine’s African-American, female audience. “Are you able to suggest topics that have been affecting the community for years? Can you reminisce or relate to the stories of historic Black women who overcame struggles and portray them accurately, and make suggestions to ensure that the story is told through a relatable voice? Are you able to manage pitches to ensure they won’t offend your African-American, woman audience?”

Essence Editor-in-Chief Constance White, however, told Richard Prince that Bullerdick “is responsible for production and operational workflow. He has no involvement in editorial content.”

Related: Prince examines white ownership and leadership of ethnic websites.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • Jason L. Lane

    I am a Bi-racial male and I feel that if this new managing editor,  Michael Bullrdick was the nest candidate for this position, regardless of his race then good for the management team at Essence.   Would there be any difference if the new editor was a white female?  Overall, as long as the Managing Editor is doing their job to ensure a great magazine and the management is happy with them and the shareholders of the magazine, then so be it whomever they are in that role

  • Sylvia Kronstadt

    Essence Magazine is a medium that is spiritedly by and for black women. It seems to me that it is disrespectful to question decisions made by the editorial staff. They’re not stupid. They know what they’re doing. Maybe they’re just adhering to the little maxim that most of us would surely support: “Hire the best person for the job, without fear or favor.”

    I wrote several profiles of successful, unusual black men for Essence 30 years ago. Nobody at the magazine ever asked about my race, but I think my name sort of gives it away.

    I was honored that they allowed me to be a part of their enterprise.

  • Anonymous

    For most magazines (except mainly Time Inc titles), managing editors do not have the same responsibilities that they do in the newspaper industry, where they typically are the #2 or #3 news executive. At magazines, as noted above, they make the trains on time and have more in common with news production chiefs than line editors. I’ve seen a number of fairly inexperienced editors appointed to the ME role mainly because of this difference. Same is true for the publisher job (in magazines, this is typically the person who heads sales and marketing, while in newspapers, it’s often synonymous with the CEO role).