On Saturday, the New York Times blasted former executive editor Jill Abramson in a press release. It read, in part: “During her tenure, I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues.”
It took a full-on public-relations war to produce that level of criticism in a public document. In his first remarks on the ouster of Abramson, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger told his staff in a newsroom session that the ex-executive editor had done great journalism but that a change might help newsroom management. Many — most? — corporations paper over the realities in similar situations, concocting bogus and face-saving storylines to mark the sudden departures of their leaders.
Gawker Media Group skips right to the skinny. Today the company announced the departure of Editor-in-Chief Geoff Manaugh from tech site Gizmodo. Was he stepping down to pursue other activities? Did he decide that he wanted to focus on some long-neglected projects? Did he want to spend more time with his family?
Nah. According to a staff e-mail from Gawker Media Editorial Director Joel Johnson, “Geoff is a real talent and one of the smartest thinkers in our editorial group, but unfortunately did not integrate well with the structure both within his team and the company as a whole.”
Founder Nick Denton wrote this:
Geoff brought an exciting perspective to topics like design and urban planning. I’ve long been fans of his work on BLDG BLOG, and will remain so. The design coverage — which Kelsey and Geoff pioneered on Gizmodo — will only be reinforced.
Ever since Brian Lam was in charge of Gizmodo, we have hoped for a site lead who could build the tech blog’s physical presence in New York, where most of the writers and videographers are based.
But we need to be flexible. Barrett has successfully managed that team remotely. He is its natural leader — even if based in Alabama. In finally giving Barrett the nod, Joel has acted decisively. Dissatisfaction — on Gizmodo or other sites — will not be permitted to fester.
Gizmodo needs to tap talent and cover stories, whether on the East Coast, West Coast or between. It is a national — and now with Manuel’s success in Spain and Latin America — an international site.
So join me in wishing good luck to Joel, Barrett, Kelsey, Jesus, Manuel and the rest of the Gizmodo team.
If The Verge is seen as the pinnacle of a tech blog, the competition is eminently beatable. I’ve always found that site nearly as boring as Vox.com itself.
Gizmodo brought in 4.5m visitors from the US last week, up 80% over a year earlier. Now just imagine what the team can do once it is properly led.
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Ripping into a colleague on his way out the door — is this some kind of Gawker Media thing whereby it practices the same bluntness vis-a-vis peers as it does public figures? Apparently so. Johnson tells the Erik Wemple Blog in an e-mail: “There’s no civility in pussyfooting around the truth. Things didn’t work as we’d hoped. Better to be candid so that everyone may learn and move forward. The more our internal communication resembles our external communications, the better. No secret can surprise you if you’ve already told it yourself.”
And Denton, responding to the same question: “We make no distinction between internal or external communication, or we seek to. Takes too much mental energy to keep information compartmentalized.”