September 14, 2016

Gawker Media staff balks at new owner’s first moves

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Gawker_Media_LogoGawker may be dead, but its spirit is still kicking via staffers at the Gawker Media satellite sites preserved in the Univision buyout.

The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson reports that Gawker Media employeees are already clashing with the company’s new owner over its decision to delete six posts across three Gawker sites that are the subjects of current lawsuits. Gawker’s editorial union is also apparently unhappy with Univision’s refusal to “indemnify them personally for stories published,” protections that any writer watching the debacle of the Hulk Hogan suit could reasonably be expected to demand.

In a statement posted on Gizmodo on Monday, Gawker Media’s editorial union protested that the removal of the stories “undermines the foundation of the ability of Gawker Media’s employees to do our work… set[ting] an alarming precedent both for our relationship with our owners and for the business of journalism as a whole.”

The statement made no mention of the disagreement regarding legal protection for Gawker staffers reported by Atkinson. According to unnamed sources who talked to her, “Univision’s general legal insurance policy applies to all its editorial staff… but the group of reporters wanted better protections than they had even before Gawker Media collapsed.”

Politico Media reporter Peter Sterne tweeted a statement he apparently received from Univision asserting that the decision to remove the posts “was based on a desire to have a clean slate as we look to support and grow the editorial missions of the acquired brands,” to which Hamilton Nolan (a former Gawker writer reassigned to Deadspin) reacted, tweeting: “Univision will soon learn they have a profound misunderstanding of ‘the editorial missions of the acquired brands.’”

According to Atkinson, the deleted stories had been published on Deadspin, Jezebel, and Gizmodo.

All of this points to an unhappy start of the new Gawker era. It’s impressive to see such a strong front on the part of the staff—who seem to have drawn strength from the nightmare, going so far as to unionize in May—and yet it’s hard not to foresee defections in the face of a corporate scrubbing.

 

 

 

 

Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.

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