Why Gawker is Going Up in Flames Right Now
It’s one of those stories that’s snowballing so fast, it’s hard to keep up with. Media/gossip site Gawker is in the middle of a firestorm after outing the CFO of Conde Nast, then pulling down the article.
On Thursday, Gawker published a post about the CFO of Conde Nast attempting to pay a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. He cancelled the meetup after the escort tried to get him to use his political connections to help with a housing dispute.
Journalists, pundits and LGTB personalities were appalled – because not only did the post out the CFO as gay, but it may have also helped the porn star blackmail him.
Gawker editor-in-chief Max Read initially defended the post:
But on Friday, the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 5-1, to remove the post, and Gawker CEO Nick Denton issued this statement saying he regretted posting it.
The story involves extortion, illegality and reckless behavior, sufficient justification at least in tabloid news terms. The account was true and well-reported. It concerns a senior business executive at one of the most powerful media companies on the planet.
In the early days of the internet, that would have been enough. “We put truths on the internet.” That has been the longstanding position of Gawker journalists, some of the most uncompromising and uncompromised on the internet. I cannot blame our editors and writers for pursuing that original mission.
But the media environment has changed, our readers have changed, and I have changed. Not only is criticism of yesterday’s piece from readers intense, but much of what they’ve said has resonated. Some of our own writers, proud to work at one of the only independent media companies, are equally appalled.
Senior writer Adam Weinstein tweeted that he had no part in the article and wouldn’t have published it as it was, then later revealed that he was fired late last month.
“I definitely feel that the latest incarnation of Gawker is short of grownups in the room to exercise some kind of non-holistic, non-shitty editorial and tonal judgment. The drawback of Gawker’s flat, wide-open editorial structure – what Nick Denton has recently called a “writer’s collective” – is that it’s only as good as the writers who run it. And my personal view is Gawker’s usual surplus of talent and insight is being undermined by a couple of people running things who’ve made it very small, very mean, and very jerkily gossipy without an intermediate process of reflection.”
Some Gawker employees are still defending the initial post, including Executive Editor for Investigations John Cook.
The scandal has much of Twitter throwing their support behind Hulk Hogan, who is suing Gawker for $100 million for publishing his sex tape.