A Journalist Pissed People Off By Asking For A Woman Who'd Lost Weight To Attack Benefits

    The reporter wanted a woman who'd lost weight to argue that overweight people should lose disability living allowance.

    Yesterday 27-year-old charity worker Kate Evans, from Oxford, received this email.

    This press request from a women's magazine in my inbox this morning. Just no.

    The email, which appears to have been sent by a freelance journalist, was sent through AskCharity, which describes itself on its website as "a free service designed to help journalists and charities work together. Journalists can use it to find case studies, spokespeople and information from a wide range of charities."

    The full email concludes: "NB, this is an edict from on-high (the editor), not one of my making (in case anybody takes offence!)."

    It was sent with Woman's Own Magazine in the subject line, although the journalist's signature included the words "Contributing Editor The Sun newspaper – UK".

    There was widespread criticism of the request on social media.

    @iamkateevans "I would like an incredibly specific case study to corroborate my reductive and unkind opinion so I can pretend it's true."

    'We'd like to find a person who fits our preconceived argument, instead of looking at how reality works.' https://t.co/9JKSoscOiP

    Journalism today. Story already written, narrative already set. https://t.co/mLZevWXIvB

    Evans told BuzzFeed News that she was moved to share the request because of her professional experience.

    She works for a disability rights charity called My Life My Choice. She told us that working for such an organisation "obviously makes me more sensitive to this kind of thing."

    "I do encounter a lot of people on disability living allowance [DLA]. I'm really upset at how much a picture is painted of people who rely on benefits as 'scroungers'," she said.

    "The idea that Woman's Own want to find somebody who used to be on benefits to back up their idea that overweight people should have their benefits cut is particularly disgusting.

    "It upsets me because I see first-hand how this kind of prejudice impacts people that I work with – many of our members have been victims of disability hate crime," she added.

    Evans feels that people on DLA "should have the chance to tell their own stories, not have lies published about them".

    To that end, she shared this video from her charity.


    The Sun told BuzzFeed News that it had no record of any editors asking a contributor to write about this story – nor does the paper have a position of "contributing editor".

    Woman's Own told BuzzFeed News: "This email was a genuine error of judgment by a junior member of staff who was not authorised to take this action. Naturally, this is not an approach Woman's Own takes in writing our stories."

    Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

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