Editorial staff of magazine quit over sacking of colleagues

Charles Finch at a society dinner
Charles Finch, right, the owner of Drugstore Culture, at one of his society dinners. Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images for Mulberry

The entire editorial staff of the new media startup Drugstore Culture have quit, giving as their reason the decision by the publisher, Charles Finch, to sack two members of staff.

The editor-in-chief, Matthew d’Ancona, a former Spectator editor and a current Guardian columnist, told staff and contributors on Monday that he had quit after “instructions from management to sack two very talented journalists and colleagues” – the assistant editor, Olive Pometsey, and the director of videography, Kimberley Moore.

In a letter co-signed with his deputy, Peter Hoskin, d’Ancona said: “Both are young women who have done extraordinary work for Drugstore Culture and performed to the very highest standards of our profession. We cannot be complicit in their arbitrary dismissal by remaining in our posts.

“The proposed sackings were part of a wider plan that would gut Drugstore Culture of its spirit, purpose and energy. Management’s intention is to replace it with something that is geared towards bland e-commerce, rather than cutting-edge cultural and political journalism.”

Staff pointed to culture clashes between editorial staff and Finch, the founder and financial backer, whose website describes him as a “leading international businessman” who has appeared “several times on Vanity Fair’s best dressed list” and “is known for his taste and for his annual Oscar and Bafta dinners”. Finch is the son of the actor Peter Finch, who played TV presenter Howard Beale in the film Network.

Drugstore Culture was due to be the first of several publications backed by Finch. The well-funded site launched last year, pledging to be an “influential voice in the cultural landscape and an indispensable bulletin board for the highest-quality cultural commentary, news and video content”.

“Unafraid of controversy, it will engage with the great issues and be a celebration of creativity whilst deploying the full armoury of the technological revolution in the service of the best and most exciting journalism,” the site announced.

However, it struggled to cut through and reach a large audience at a tough time for online media. Last week it attracted attention with a widely shared column by Clementine Crawford about being barred from eating alone at the bar of a New York restaurant in case she was a sex worker.

Finch did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.