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Gawker Editors Revolt over Nick Denton’s Removal of Condé Nast-Gay Escort Article

A universally denounced article published Thursday at Gawker.com has seemingly split the company in two, with editorial staff sharply criticizing and mocking CEO Nick Denton’s decision to delete the post.

On Friday evening, a piece bylined as “Gawker Media Editorial Staff” blasted a statement denouncing Denton’s earlier blog post explaining the removal of a post seemingly outing Condé Nast’s CFO based on allegations from a gay porn star and escort.

Denton stated at his personal blog that he took the unprecedented step of ordering the post’s removal without any legal obligation:

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.

A post by Gawker reporter JK Trotter, posted one minute before Denton’s blog, gave further detail on how the company came to its decision:

Today the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 4-2* to remove it. Executive editor Tommy Craggs, who helped edit the piece, and President Heather Dietrick, who reviewed and cleared the piece before publication in her capacity as Gawker Media’s chief legal counsel, were the only partners who dissented.

The partners who voted to remove the post were Andrew Gorenstein, who serves as the president of advertising and partnerships; chief operating officer Scott Kidder; chief strategy officer Erin Pettigrew; and chief executive officer Nick Denton, who founded Gawker Media in 2002. Along with Tommy Craggs and Heather Dietrick, they belong to Gawker Media’s managing partnership, which Denton established in 2014 and whose members decide on all major company matters.

The statement from Gawker’s editorial staff “condemn[ed] the takedown in the strongest possible terms,” asserting that the move threatened their independence:

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. Our opinions on the post are not unanimous but we are united in objecting to editorial decisions being made by a majority of non-editorial managers. Disagreements about editorial judgment are matters to be resolved by editorial employees. We condemn the takedown in the strongest possible terms.

Before this solemn statement, however, Gawker’s Tom Scocca taunted the company’s business side with a post titled “Hi, I Am a Cute and Very Harmless Kittycat.” Under a photo of a sad-looking cat, Scocca wrote a single line of text: “Please don’t take me down.” The post was tagged in the category: “Editorial Standards.”

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