A BuzzFeed Canada writer was harassed on Twitter Saturday after putting out a call for story pitches from non-white contributors.
Senior writer Scaachi Koul tweeted that the the site was looking for "Canada-centric" content, and "would particularly like to hear from you if you are not white and not male."
A screengrab from Scaachi Koul's Twitter account, which has since been deactivated.
Koul said she wasn't going to ignore pitches from white male writers, but would be less interested in them.
"Giving ignored voices preferential treatment is not racism against white people ...it is an attempt to fix all of history," she tweeted.
Maclean's columnist Scott Gilmore said her call for pitches was illegal, because it violated Canadian human rights and labour laws.
The Ontario Human Rights Code states that employers cannot advertise positions that indicate qualifications "by a prohibited ground of discrimination" such as by age or ethnicity.
But Koul's boss, Craig Silverman, came to her defence, saying the callout was not a job posting.
@Scott_Gilmore @Scaachi it's clearly not a job ad, and it violates no laws to encourage women & poc to pitch. But yeah thx for the link.— Craig Silverman (@CraigSilverman) February 20, 2016
Koul then tweeted that she was receiving violent threats. She has since deleted her Twitter account.
Some journalists decried the backlash and praised Koul's work.
Think Canada doesn't have race issues? @BuzzFeedCanada's @scaachi tweeted for more women/writers of colour and was harassed off Twitter.— Elan Morgan (@schmutzie) February 21, 2016
Scaachi Koul is one of the strongest, most brilliant writers/editors in the world. Fuck all of you dickwads for harassing her off Twitter.— Julia Alexander (@loudmouthjulia) February 21, 2016
Davide Mastracci, blog editor of the Ryerson Review of Journalism, said he felt that BuzzFeed's search for diverse writers is progressive, not racist.
Last November, the magazine wrote about "The Unbearable Whiteness of Canadian Columnists," underscoring that opinion columns are "dominated by old white men." It floated solutions including actively recruiting writers from underrepresented communities.
Jeet Heer, the Canadian editor of The New Republic, pointed out on Twitter, "The freakout of the Canadian media at any little push for ethnic diversity and gender equality is really something."
9. Very modest attempt by BuzzFeed for ethnic diversity & gender equality in Canadian media is in context of Godfrey dominated industry— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 20, 2016
11. Ascent some active policies to change, segregation of Canadian media will remain the norm.— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 20, 2016
Disclosure: Scaachi Koul once worked as an editorial intern at The Huffington Post Canada.
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