I Left My Career in Prestige Media Because of the Shitty Men in Charge and They Are Still In Charge and Still Fucking Up

Jennifer Barnett
14 min readJan 27, 2021
Photo by USGS on Unsplash

I had the plum job. The top of the masthead of one of the most prestigious and respected publications with more than a 150-year-old history. I left because I blew the whistle on my boss for doing something unethical then abusing the staff and undermining the editorial process during which time I was assured he would be fired but instead he was promoted and after threatening me privately in his office, he marginalized me to the point of being completely invisible. In addition to being my boss at this prestigious publication, he was also the president of the principal organization in the United States for the editorial leaders of magazines and websites. Literally every editor of every publication was beholden to him.

My career was over. I was 44 years old.

Not long after I quit, he also left but he went on to be next in line to run the paper of record, and I was volunteering to write the newsletter for the parent organization at my kid’s school. He’s since been fired, or rather resigned, for another major public failing but just last week I was told he’s working with the new editor in chief of the publication I left to write for them. He’s going to land on his feet. At the top.

Why does it matter? Because the same men who continually fuck up are still in charge of the media. They shape the world. If you don’t think that’s true, take a look at the coverage of Hillary Clinton during my former boss’s tenure at the paper of record leading up to the 2016 election. Despite even major public failings, they keep coming back because they work behind the scenes to protect themselves and each other to stay in power and preserve the status quo.

And it’s happening at the expense of women. Time after time.

When I worked at the publication, we published an article about what still holds women back in the workplace. It was a seminal piece that drove the national conversation. Workplaces not just in the U.S. but globally held forums to discuss and adopt the practices we outlined in our piece. It was prescriptive, and my boss garnered accolades galore. But behind the scenes it was a different story.

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Jennifer Barnett

Former managing editor of The Atlantic, Teen Vogue, Redbook, and Elle. Now I’m writing. Expat in Amsterdam.