Today, two of Gawkers top editors — Editor in Chief Max Read and executive editor Tommy Craggs — resigned from their positions today. They chose to take a principled stand on a hill of their own making, a hill made of chemicals and garbage that’s currently engulfed in flames.
See, what happened was this: Jordan Sargent wrote a piece outing the Conde Naste CFO for allegedly proposition a gay escort after the gay escort tried to shake down the CFO. The Internet went crazy, decrying Gawker for running a story with no news value whatsoever and ruining a married man’s life in the process. The outcry got so loud that Gawker CEO Nick Denton decided to remove the post, saying that, from now on, Gawker will not be a callous, junk site, a decision he made only after getting called out for being the CEO of a callous junk site.
Read and Craggs, in turn, resigned, saying they could no longer remain editors of a callous junk site where management — business people and ad execs — could dictate their callous, junk content. Craggs called out Denton and Gawker, sharing a text message thread from the partners. Read also called out Gawker management before sending out a separate memo to the staff explaining why he was resigning, while praising and thanking the staff for their efforts and friendship.
Denton, in turn, sent out another memo, re-defending his decision to pull the post and writing that the Conde Nast business was “symptomatic of a site that has been out of control of editorial management,” while asserting that the ethos of the site “needs a calibration.” He said that he only stepped in this one time to “save Gawker from itself” and politely offered severance packages to anyone else who wanted to resign.
Meanwhile, over on Deadspin (a Gawker site), Albert Burneko wrote a post about what a good friend Tommy Cragg was to him, and how much he’ll miss him. Awwww.
All of this, by the way, is being published on the actual Gawker website: The resignation letters, the memos to staff, the private text messages between employees, the behind-the-scenes machinations, the bickering, the gnashing and the backbiting.
It’s all, apparently, in the pursuit of Gawker’s mission to be transparent, except when it isn’t, like when they fire people but keep them on the payroll until they find another position so they can bow out gracefully.
Meanwhile, Twitter — especially those in the media — are having the time of their lives watching Gawker destroy itself publicly after years of consuming Gawker’s coverage detailing the destruction of others. The wrinkle here is that Gawker itself is actually enjoying a surge in page views, thanks to posts about Reddit’s implosion, the implosion of Grantland, and now with posts about its own cratering.
Except that Gawker is not cratering. It has simply become the subject of its own coverage. Who better to cover the schadenfreude of its own bitter infighting than Gawker itself, a site that specializes in gleefully covering the moral, ethical, and business failings of others? The site is getting 10 times the page views from its own inner turmoil than its usual bread and butter: Dumbasses in Florida and Ohio.
Denton may have a payoff due in the $100 million Hulk Hogan sex tape trial soon, and what better way to generate extra revenue than to gin up page views by writing about the scandal plaguing the site that writes about scandals plaguing other sites!
It’s genius, really. It’s just too bad that so many lives are being destroyed and reputations sullied along the way. But Nick Denton and the Gawker management have never really cared about that when it comes to other people, so why should they care when it comes to their own? As long as the hits keep coming, this Gawker scandal may last another few months, until they find another rotting carcass to feast upon. After all, if Gawker can generate over 200,000 page views by destroying a woman’s life and then another 400,000 page views by apologizing for it, imagine how many page views they can generate by apologizing for destroying itself?