The executive editor of Gawker Media, Tommy Craggs, and the editor-in-chief of Gawker, Max Read, have resigned from Gawker Media over the deletion of a news story. Last week, Gawker reported on the CFO of Conde Nast exchanging messages with a gay escort. The escort also attempted to use the CFO’s political influence (the CFO’s brother was a former Secretary of the Treasury) to assist him in a housing dispute. The CFO backed out of the deal when he started to realize what was happening.
The publication of the story caused a firestorm, with many saying that the previously private individual was undeserving of having this revealed. Many criticized Gawker for publishing the story, with some also saying it amounted to gay-shaming.
However, Gawker writers attempted to defend the story online. Read doubled down on the publication and said that the man’s identity as a major executive made him public enough for publication.
given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies fucking around on their wives
— max read (@max_read) July 17, 2015
However, the firestorm continued to brew and on Friday, the article was pulled down. The managing editors, a group of six top executives, voted to remove the story on a 4-2 vote. Gawker founder Nick Denton then explained the decision and reasoning on his blog. The Gawker Editorial Staff, which voted to unionize earlier this year, released a statement blasting the decision to pull a story. They claimed this was the business side of the business interfering with editorial matters.
Early Monday, Craggs and Read announced their resignations in an article written by media reporter, J.K. Trotter. Their internal memos to the company were published and Craggs explained his perspective of the matter in his memo. Craggs also revealed that there was advertiser pressure, several had placed their campaigns on hold or cancelled them. Read blamed Denton for extending the crisis longer than it had to, saying, “This is a brief storm that Nick’s shortsightedness has extended.”
Roughly a half hour later, Denton published a new blog post. He posted an open letter to all of the editorial staff at Gawker Media, where he was frank about the challenges faced, but remained optimistic. Denton also said that the Gawker brand itself was toxic and that the Gawker ideology was starting to get out of hand. To those who wanted the post to remain, he says that that is an “abuse of the privilege” of editorial freedom. He added, “And it was my responsibility to step in to save Gawker from itself.”