The Gawker ethos requires the placement of dirty laundry on well-trafficked URLs.
In what this blog regards a shining example of the site’s self-professed “radical transparency,” Gawker in 2012 published e-mail correspondence between Gawker Media President Nick Denton and then-“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams. It embarrassed both Denton and Williams. Whatever.
Today has witnessed the consummation of Gawkerness. The place is imploding following an invasive Thursday story exposing the efforts of a male high-ranking official at Conde Nast to secure the services of a male escort. Following a backlash, Nick Denton, the president of a group of sites under the banner of Gawker Media, wrote a post titled “Taking a Post Down,” in which he defended his move to disappear the Conde Nast story. Denton’s justification has tallied 430,000 pageviews. Today, Gawker’s J.K. Trotter wrote a post noting the resignations of Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read and Gawker Media Executive Editor Tommy Craggs over Denton’s decision. It’s now at 325,000 pageviews. That comes on top of another Trotter post on the removal (288,000 pageviews). There’s also a statement from the Gawker Media editorial staff citing opposition to the way in which “business executives deleted an editorial post over the objections of the entire executive editorial staff” (567,000 pageviews).
Established: Gawker has no equal when it comes to turning its turmoil into traffic.
So what’s left for a media blogger?
Not much other than a note of irony. Craggs cited this issue in his memo to staffers: “[T]he message was immediately broadcast to the company and to its readers that the responsibility Nick had vested in the executive editor is in fact meaningless, that true power over editorial resides in the whims of the four cringing members of the managing partnership’s Fear and Money Caucus.” Read, in his own memo, ripped away: “I am able to do this job to the extent that I can believe that the people in charge are able, when faced with difficult decisions, to back up their stated commitments to transparency, fearlessness, and editorial independence.” The Gawker editorial staff preached this: “Our union drive has expressed at every stage of the process that one of our core goals is to protect the editorial independence of Gawker Media sites from the influence of business-side concerns. Today’s unprecedented breach of the firewall, in which business executives deleted an editorial post over the objections of the entire executive editorial staff, demonstrated exactly why we seek greater protection.”
It all amounts to one giant process complaint — a process complaint relating to how management took down a bad story. Much less attention appears to be invested in just how that bad story got published in the first place.