Axios CEO Jim VandeHei walked back his encouragement for journalist employees to participate in ongoing protests after the New York Times reported on his memo to employees.
But after the New York Times reported on the memo, VanderHei backtracked on the memo’s contents. He said that if Axios newsroom employees participated in protests, it could jeopardize current and future sources because taking one side of an issue could put their neutrality at risk. VanderHei told the New York Times that his memo did not change Axios company policy.
In a companywide e-mail, VandeHei said, “First, let me say we proudly support and encourage you to exercise your rights to free speech, press, and protest. If you’re arrested or meet harm while exercising these rights, Axios will stand behind you and use the Family Fund to cover your bail or assist with medical bills.”
His e-mail was a response to an anonymous employee who asked about Axios’s stance on permitting newsroom employees to actively participate in protests.
The New York Times called VandeHei’s memo “an unusual move” because it marked a “shift from the stance journalists normally adopt to avoid the appearance of partisanship.”
Axios, which is a news website emphasizing short and concise blogs, employs 192 people and about half are newsroom or journalism employees. The New York Times also noted that its social media policy bars employees from sharing political views.