VegNews, Apologies, and the Fine Art of Growing Up
Let me talk to you about sincere apologies. Real apologies, the heartfelt kind, aren’t defensive. Even if they do try to provide explanations for bad behaviour, they never try to provide excuses. They admit to wrongdoing, and profess regret for the harm that wrongdoing has caused. VegNews’ response to the photo scandal? Not an apology.
The publishing world is a ruthless one. No one is denying that. I agree that it’s great that VegNews is able to reach an audience that may otherwise not have access to vegan materials… As one of the commentors on Quarry Girl’s recent exposé remarked, VegNews is available to people shopping at Safeway in Nebraska – T.O.F.U. Magazine and the vegan blogosphere isn’t so immediately visible. It’s great that we have a vegan-run publication that is so prevalent among mainstream media. I agree with VegNews about these things.
But you know what? That doesn’t negate what they did wrong, and their response did nothing to assuage my newfound unease with their publication. Nowhere in that letter did they even acknowledge their readers’ concern with anything but accusations. You know what they did instead of saying “we fucked up”? They accused us of being the assholes. They were “deeply saddened with the dialogues that [had] transpired over the last 12 hours.” Meaning: “we’re upset that you caught us.” Anyone can see how that is not an appropriate response here. VegNews wants you to believe that your feelings of betrayal (if you have them) are illegitimate. The thing is, they’re not, and here’s why:
- They Photoshopped images of actual meat to look like vegan dishes. This is straight-up deceit. If it isn’t, I don’t know what is.
- They used stock photos to illustrate recipes. Have they even tested the recipes they publish? What are they meant to look like? No wonder my quiche didn’t work as well as theirs did – mine didn’t involve any egg!
- They tried to cover up the truth. This is the worst part. When word got out, VegNews’ first response was to try and hide what they did. If they really think that using stock images is acceptable, and , then why did they try to hide it? Why didn’t they just explain themselves right away? Answer: because they knew their readers would be upset. So, instead, they lied to us some more.
So, now we have a list of sins that VegNews simply did not account for in their (long overdue) response, and a reply that essentially tells us to STFU and praise them for everything else they do well. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way in the grown-up world. There are three steps to repairing damaged relationships: i) take responsibility for your mistakes, ii) apologise for them, iii) try to make up for your misbehaviour. VegNews has done none of these things. At this point, their reaction has consisted entirely of “This is everybody’s fault but mine!” and “You should be grateful we even publish this magazine!” VegNews does not deserve your forgiveness because they haven’t even asked for it. And, until they do, they will not get it. At least, not from me.