Amy Emmerich, Content Chief At Vice Media’s Refinery29, Exits Amid Probe Of Division’s Culture

Amy Emmerich, chief content officer for Vice Media’s Refinery29, has exited the digital company, which has been unsettled by an investigation into its workplace culture and treatment of employees of color.

In a memo to employees Thursday, Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc confirmed the move but did not allude to any larger context.

During her five-plus-year run at the female-skewing Refinery, Dubuc wrote, “Amy has been passionately committed to building the brand and helping to shape its vision. That passion was a driving force behind where this brand is today and the successful integration of Refinery29 into our company.”

In November 2019, Vice closed its $400 million acquisition of Refinery and began integrating it into the larger company structure. Emmerich was announced last November as continuing in her role heading content and reporting directly to Dubuc.

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“Her business focus and unwavering energy have helped take Refinery29 to the next level in the media world,” Dubuc said of Emmerich. “She leaves behind a brand that is poised to continue its mission of creative storytelling in all forms that helps all women see, feel and claim their power at this pivotal cultural moment in history.”

Last month, reports surfaced that an outside law firm would be probing the operations of Refinery after complaints of systematic mistreatment of black women and other women of color employed by the company. A harsh spotlight has fallen on a range of media brands of lately — most recently, the Los Angeles Times, The Ringer and Condé Nast — against the backdrop of widespread protests against racism in the U.S.

As in other recent instances, the grievances against the content teams led by Emmerich ranged from the makeup of the staff to the power dynamics and agency given to black women and women of color. CNN, which had the first report of Emmerich’s departure, last month reported internal charges that editor-in-chief Christene Barberich “made some editorial decisions that some said had the effect of diminishing” those employees.

The union representing Refinery29 workers had been agitating for changes. On Thursday, it expressed satisfaction with the move via Twitter. “We’re pleased that our June 11 letter to VMG management asking for Amy Emmerich’s resignation was finally addressed,” the union tweeted. “We’re looking forward to working with new leadership who’s experienced in overseeing a diverse newsroom committed to serving a diverse audience.

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