Announcement from JK Trotter here. Or just read this:
“Yesterday, Gawker published a post about the CFO of Condé Nast attempting to pay a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. Today the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 5-1, to remove the post. Executive editor Tommy Craggs, who helped edit the post, was the sole dissenter. The company’s C.E.O., Nick Denton, is expected to issue a statement shortly.
Update, 2:30 p.m.: Here is Denton’s statement.”
ETA: JK’s post has been added to and now reads:
Yesterday, Gawker published a post about the CFO of Condé Nast attempting to pay a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. Today the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 6-1, to remove the post. Executive editor Tommy Craggs, who helped edit the post, was the sole dissenter.
The vote to remove the post, which was written by staff writer Jordan Sargent and edited by several other Gawker staffers, comes after widespread criticism from our own readers and other outlets. Along the Craggs, every other member of Gawker Media’s editorial leadership, including Gawker’s editor-in-chief Max Read and the executive editors of Gawker Media’s Politburo, strenuously protested removing the post.
Besides CEO Nick Denton, the partners who voted to remove the post were Heather Dietrick, who serves as President and chief legal counsel; Andrew Gorenstein, who serves as the president of advertising and partnerships; chief operating officer Scott Kidder; chief strategy officer Erin Pettigrew; and chief technology officer Tom Plunkett. Along with Tommy Craggs, they belong to Gawker Media’s managing partnership, which Denton established in 2014 and whose members decide on all major company matters.
“The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family,” Denton wrote in a lengthy statement issued on Friday afternoon. “Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement.”
Yesterday evening, Gawker.com published a story about the CFO of Conde Nast texting an escort. It was an editorial call, a close call around which there were more internal disagreements than usual. And it is a decision I regret.
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.
I believe this public mood reflects a growing recognition that we all have secrets, and they are not all equally worthy of exposure. I can’t defend yesterday’s story as I can our coverage of Bill O’Reilly, Hillary Clinton or Hulk Hogan.
We are proud of running stories that others shy away from, often to preserve relationships or access. But the line has moved. And Gawker has an influence and audience that demands greater editorial restraint.
Gawker is no longer the insolent blog that began in 2003. It does important and interesting journalism about politicians, celebrities and other major public figures. This story about the former Treasury Secretary’s brother does not rise to the level that our flagship site should be publishing.
The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family. Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement.
Every story is a judgment call. As we go forward, we will hew to our mission of reporting and publishing important stories that our competitors are too timid, or self-consciously upright, to pursue. There will always be stories that critics attack as inappropriate or unjustified; and we will no doubt again offend the sensibilities of some industries or interest groups.
This action will not turn back the clock. David Geithner’s embarrassment will not be eased. But this decision will establish a clear standard for future stories. It is not enough for them simply to be true. They have to reveal something meaningful. They have to be true and interesting. These texts were interesting, but not enough, in my view.
In light of Gawker’s past rhetoric about our fearlessness and independence, this can be seen as a capitulation. And perhaps, to some extent, it is. But it is motivated by a sincere effort build a strong independent media company, and to evolve with the audience we serve.
And to those who were banned for speaking out? Will they get reinstated? Will they get any acknowledgement?
More importantly, to the Geithner family? The Mrs. and the kids?