Vanessa K. De Luca has left The Root after two years as editor-in-chief.
“Vanessa left the company. We wish her well. Tatsha Robertson is now Acting Editor in Chief,” Mark Neschis, head of corporate communications for G/O Media, messaged Journal-isms Thursday. “That’s all I can share at this point.”
De Luca did not address the departure publicly nor respond to an inquiry. Her LinkedIn profile says, “She recently served as Editor In Chief of The Root.”
Tatsha Robertson has been named Acting Editor in Chief.
De Luca, editor-in-chief of Essence magazine from 2013 to 2018, arrived in 2021 as the seventh editorial leader of The Root, established in 2008 by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and then-Washington Post publisher Donald Graham. She followed Danielle Belton, who became editor-in-chief of HuffPost. Her tenure was marked by backlash from staffers over a content shift to a more family-friendly direction.
Over “the past year, 15 of the site’s employees have left — a nearly 100 percent turnover since April, when it had 16 full-time staffers,” Tarpley Hitt wrote in January 2022 for Gawker.
“The departures included: managing editor Genetta Adams; news editor Monique Judge; social media editor Corey Townsend; editor Maiysha Kai; video producers Felice Leon, Jessica Moulite, and PJ Rickards; writers, Tonja Renée Stidhum, Joe Jurado, Terrell Jermaine Starr, Stephen Crockett Jr., and Michael Harriot; and the two founders of Very Smart Brothas, the popular blog that The Root acquired in 2017, Damon Young and Panama Jackson.
Many stories were rewrites of pieces from other media. The Gawker account reported, “Eight former and current Root staffers told Gawker that management seemed to want less of the overtly provocative work its writers were known for in favor of ‘a softer, gentler, more upbeat site,’ with an emphasis on entertainment, fewer swear words, a blurrier relationship with advertisers, and stories like, as one source put it: ‘This Girl Applied For 17 Scholarships And Got Into Three Ivy League Schools.’ “
When Jim Rich, then editorial director at G/O Media, hired De Luca in 2021, he said, “Vanessa is a proven leader who has run major editorial operations covering the African American experience in the US. She is a smart, innovative editor who I am confident will maintain and grow The Root’s position in the industry, and with her guidance, take the brand to new levels of success.”
In the midst of the staff dissatisfaction, De Luca tweeted in October 2021, “If y’all only knew how many people i have outlasted, you wouldn’t try me. #resilienceisaverb.”
If y’all only knew how many people i have outlasted, you wouldn’t try me. #resilienceisaverb
— Vanessa K. De Luca (@Vanessa_KDeLuca) October 11, 2021