Salty Is Mark Bittman’s New Food Mag. Trouble Is, There’s Already a Salty.

A newsletter with 25,000 subscribers has a legitimate bone to pick with a famous food journalist whose splashy new project uses their name — with a very similar logo.

Yesterday, to some fanfare, the food journalist, prolific recipe demystifier, and former New York Times columnist Mark Bittman announced that he had partnered with Medium on a new online-only food magazine called Salty. Insofar as it has a mission statement, it seems to beFood should be fair to people and animals, affordable for everyone, and procured in a way that respects our natural resources.” That sounds like it could be cool, a nice addition to a post-Lucky Peach world, or possibly a vanity project. The site is already populated with a fairly wide range of stories, from the silly (“The Grown-Up’s Case for Kid Food”) to the heftier (a profile of a Chicago restaurant that specializes in roasted goat).

The problem? There’s already a newsletter called Salty, and their logos are quite alike.

That other Salty — the first Salty, that is — seems to take its name from the slang term meaning defiantly agitated. It’s a dating-and-relationship site that is “for (and by) sex and body-positive women, trans, and nonbinary people,” many of them people of color. In other words, it’s a little slice of the culture that’s carving out a niche for the most marginalized among us.

In all likelihood, no one intended to undermine other people’s creative endeavors. And this is a world in which there are two entirely different films called The Avengers and also two totally separate Michelle Williamses. But the Bittman-Medium team certainly didn’t do its due diligence here. And irrespective of what anyone meant to do or meant not to do, it plays into the dynamic by which straight, cis, white men can frictionlessly trample over the labor of others — in this case, a trans and gender-nonconforming people of color whose product frankly looks a lot cooler.

This story could end happily, however. Maybe Ev Williams, who wants to fix the internet by helping writers and creative people make a living, could do some real good here. But somebody stepped on a rake. 

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