Bon Appétit, the multimedia food-journalism outlet that has experienced a summer of racial strife in the workplace, has a new editor-in-chief: Dawn Davis, a prominent editor and executive who has been one of the few Black power players in the book world.
Condé Nast, the parent of Bon Appétit, announced the appointment Thursday, saying Davis will start Nov. 2. It is a wide-ranging role that, in addition to the Bon Appétit brand, will give Davis editorial control of the company’s food outlets Epicurious, Healthyish and Basically across all media, including print, digital, social media and video.
Davis, 55, succeeds Adam Rapoport, a 20-year veteran of Condé Nast who had led Bon Appétit for a decade before he resigned under pressure in June after a 2004 photo that showed him wearing an offensive costume resurfaced on social media. The image drew attention to broader problems at the magazine, where staff members had long complained about Rapoport’s boorish leadership style and a workplace culture of racial insensitivity. (Amanda Shapiro, the editor of Healthyish, has served as interim editor since Rapoport left.)
Davis is a vice president at Simon & Schuster, where she is the founder and publisher of 37 Ink, an imprint that emphasizes marginalized voices. During her more than two decades in the book business, she has shepherded a number of critically acclaimed and commercially successful literary works, including “The Known World,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Edward P. Jones, which she acquired during her time as the publisher of Amistad, a HarperCollins imprint.
There is no doubt she will inherit a troubled workplace. The tensions at Bon Appétit did not dissolve with the exit of Rapoport.
Two days after his resignation, Matt Duckor, a Condé Nast executive who oversaw video for Bon Appétit and other titles, left the company after an online petition called for his removal, accusing him of overseeing a “discriminatory system that paid white editors at Bon Appétit for their video work, while their nonwhite editors received nothing.”
This month, three journalists of color said they would no longer participate in the magazine’s videos, accusing Condé Nast of failing to offer them pay that was commensurate to that of their white colleagues. Shortly after that, Bon Appétit’s only two Black editorial staff members resigned, saying Condé Nast had failed to recognize their contributions.