LeKesha Lewis is taking over as Publisher, the management of Fireside’s business and financial operations, and the roles of art director, designer, and webmaster.
Chelle Parker is now Managing Editor, handling editorial operations and the production schedule, as well as continuing to serve as copyeditor and proofreader.
White, Fireside Fiction’s founding editor and publisher from 2012-2017, had stepped in as interim editorial director last November, taking the place of Pablo Defendini as Fireside recovered from Defendini’s intensely criticized posting of an audio recording of a contributor’s essay done by a white narrator in an affected accent – something Defendini admitted he didn’t listen to before posting (see “Fireside Editor Apologizes for ‘Auditory Blackface’ by Narrator of Essay in November Issue”).
Brian J. White had remained one-third owner of the company when Defendini took on a majority interest in 2017. Today’s update says Defendini is giving up his entire stake in the company and stepping down from all duties at Fireside.
“We know that we have a lot of work to do to regain the community’s trust,” Fireside tweeted this morning. And the company has instituted a new policy for checking everything they publish:
In order to avoid anything like the publication of that racist recording happening again, Fireside has a new, simple rule: nothing will be published — on our site, our newsletter, our official social media accounts, etc. — without at least two members of Fireside staff reviewing it and affirmatively signing off on its publication. When making choices about materials associated with stories (art, audio, etc.) we will additionally consult with guest editors and authors as appropriate during the process and give them the chance to review the materials before publication.
Meantime, the company is still running in the red, even after cutting its print edition and taking other measures. To avoid having Fireside shut down, Mikki Kendall, Sarah Gailey, and DongWon Song are providing the financial backing needed to carry on for the next twelve months. (They’ll have no active role, power, or responsibility for the management of Fireside or for editorial and business decisions.) White says Fireside will need to bring in a considerable number of new subscribers over the next year to continue in business and repay their investment.