A couple days ago, I read the now infamous Gawker article about the married executive and gay escort that is at the center of a firestorm of criticism against Nick Denton’s media website.
After finishing the piece, I wasn’t exactly sure what I read. I knew it wasn’t a good feeling I was having, but was thoroughly confused as to why this was published. Not that I didn’t understand the storyline, but the article was unlike any “news” I had ever read before… and not in any good, innovative ways.
How was this newsworthy? Why did Gawker out the executive while keeping the identity of the blackmailing escort with ulterior motives secret? It’s not like the executive had a history of being anti-gay or homophobic, and you know, they actually never ended up meeting one another, so the whole “fucking around on their wives” thing never actually happened. Not to mention the scumbag escort that tried to use the executive for ulterior motives — as if $2,500, a free hotel and airfare wasn’t enough. He walks away with his hands clean? This is Gawker’s courtroom and jury.
Luckily, I wasn’t the only one completely turned off by this. Gawker’s readers were similarly confused and pissed off:
This was low even considering Gawker’s reputation (and sites like Perez Hilton, TMZ, etc.) full of gay shaming and supporting future scumbags that want to blackmail their johns. There was nothing newsworthy whatsoever. I regret reading it.
I’m happy that there was a backlash from Gawker readers. If this article went live without that backlash (and got the page views), I’m afraid this type of journalism would be justified — because page views = ad dollars.
Instead, the power that be removed the article setting off more drama. Today, two high-ranking editors at the gossip site resigned because the article was pulled down saying they “(stood) by the post” and “that non-editorial business executives were given a vote in the decision to remove it is an unacceptable and unprecedented breach of the editorial firewall…”
Oh, give me a break. It’s laughable that Executive Editor Tommy Craggs and Editor in Chief Max Read cite journalistic ethics as the reason for stepping down — as if they’re taking a noble stand for free speech and all that’s good with journalism. As if Gawker played by any of those rules before.
Where were these so-called ethics when you decided to publish that post that was so universally disliked, detested and disgusted by? Sorry to bust your bubble, but outside of Gawker’s editorial staff, you two are standing next to each other, alone.