Nerd News: Gawker’s Editor in Chief and Executive Editor Resigns

Max Read and Tom Craggs both resigned from Gawker Media today amid the breach of the firewall between editorial and management. John gives you some details


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After a hor­ri­bly re­ceived ar­ti­cle is tak­en down, Gawker los­es its Editor in Chief Max Reid and their Executive ed­i­tor Tommy Craggs… but not for the rea­sons you might think. That’s right, the two most se­nior peo­ple on the Editorial side of Gawker are gone cit­ing dam­age to “Gawker’s ed­i­to­r­i­al in­tegri­ty” by the de­ci­sion to re­move an ar­ti­cle with­out their con­sul­ta­tion. Once you’re done rolling around on the floor laugh­ing at the con­cept of Gawker Media hav­ing ed­i­to­r­i­al Integrity, take a clos­er at this mess and you will see the many, many lay­ers of ut­ter failure.

To un­der­stand these ac­tions we must first go back to the in­cit­ing in­ci­dent. On Friday Gawker put out an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “Condé Nast’s CFO Tried To Pay $2,500 for a Night With a Gay Porn Star.” The eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of this, frankly dis­gust­ing, ar­ti­cle will be ex­plained in de­tail in a fu­ture ed­i­to­r­i­al, but for now the facts are that Gawker out­ed the CFO of a com­peti­tor me­dia com­pa­ny as al­leged­ly gay whilst also seem­ing­ly aid­ing in his black­mail. Gawker act­ing like… well Gawker is noth­ing new, but this post trig­gered a back­lash from fel­low “pro­gres­sive” tabloid blogs, their read­ers, as well as their long-time critics.

Gawker took down the of­fend­ing ar­ti­cle the next day, with Nick Denton him­self cit­ing the rea­son it was re­moved not be­cause it was a base­less at­tack on a pri­vate in­di­vid­ual. It  just didn’t pass his “Is this in­ter­est­ing enough?” test. Gawker made an egre­gious­ly bad ar­ti­cle, then Gawker act­ed out of char­ac­ter and ac­tu­al­ly re­moved said ar­ti­cle amongst a shit-storm of back­lash from their usu­al­ly com­plic­it read­ers.  Case closed it seemed. Another chap­ter in the ex­ten­sive laun­dry list of their un­eth­i­cal practices.

But noth­ing is sim­ple or even vague­ly com­pe­tent when it comes to Gawker Media. Turns out the ed­i­to­r­i­al staff were split about whether to take down the ar­ti­cle or not. You heard that right; many of them pas­sion­ate­ly de­fend­ed this mess and want­ed it to stay up feel­ing that it isn’t dis­sim­i­lar to Gawker’s usu­al out­put. Turns out that de­ci­sion was tak­en out of their hands and the busi­ness ex­ecs on the site hit the pan­ic but­ton and re­moved the gay-outing at­tack ar­ti­cle as it was rapid­ly tank­ing what was left of their brand im­age. Gawker’s ed­i­to­r­i­al felt wound­ed and put out this state­ment con­demn­ing the re­moval in the strongest pos­si­ble terms, as it is a breach of the ed­i­to­r­i­al firewall.

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So we have an at­tempt to clean up a mess lead­ing to a big­ger in­ter­nal mess for Gawker. That seems to be what has spurred on today’s de­ci­sion. These two ed­i­tors have not quit be­cause of the in­cred­i­bly un­eth­i­cal con­duct of the site and shame­ful be­hav­ior rou­tine­ly ex­hib­it­ed by their writ­ers — that seems to have been all en­cour­aged un­der their tenure. No, the rea­son they have quit is be­cause Nick Denton and the non-editorial side of Gawker Media went over their heads and tried to steady the ship.

The res­ig­na­tion state­ments them­selves make amaz­ing read­ing, with Executive ed­i­tor Tommy Craggs flat-out say­ing “I stand by the post” and Max Read go­ing into more de­tail writ­ing “a post was delet­ed from Gawker over the stren­u­ous ob­jec­tions of Tommy and my­self, as well as the en­tire staff of ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tors.” Gawker’s ed­i­tors seem in­cred­u­lous their blank-check to print what­ev­er they pleased and of­ten cost the com­pa­ny mon­ey in the process. Its frankly in­cred­i­ble read­ing that two men chose an ar­ti­cle (that by all de­cent mea­sures should re­sult in a law­suit) as their hill to die on. This is a tes­ta­ment to rot­ten ed­i­to­r­i­al po­lices in place through­out Gawker’s now rapid­ly crum­bling me­dia empire.

Gawker’s tail­spin is still de­vel­op­ing but this lat­est up­heaval must sure­ly sig­nal a seis­mic change at the tabloid blog.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
John Sweeney is a ter­ri­bly British man with a back­ground in en­gi­neer­ing. He writes long-form ed­i­to­r­i­al con­tent with analy­sis of gam­ing, games me­dia and in­ter­net cul­ture. He also does the oc­ca­sion­al video game ret­ro­spec­tive with a week­ly col­umn about Magic the Gathering thrown in for good mea­sure. He also does most of our in­ter­views for some rea­son, we have no idea why. A staunch sup­port­er of free speech and con­sumer rights; skep­ti­cal of agen­da dri­ven me­dia and sus­pi­cious of un­ac­cou­table au­thor­i­ty but al­ways hope­ful for change.
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