G is for galling.
  • Gawker
  • G is for galling.

This week sucks, and it's about to get suckier: Yesterday, Matter ran a lengthy piece by former Gawker.com staffer Dayna Evans, on Gawker's "woman problem," and right out of the gate, it's bad. Behold, Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton's response to the New York Times' inquiry as to who'd be his ideal editor in chief, after outlining a future for the media company that named-checked five male staffers. Emphasis mine for reasons that should be readily apparent:

“I’m not going to talk about individual candidates. But we are looking for a mixture of news judgment, intellectual framework and humanity. The ideal candidate was actually a colleague of yours, David Carr, now sadly no longer with us.”

Denton was posturing for New York Times readers, but the message unwittingly sent to the female writers and editors of Gawker was that their boss would sooner name a dead man than any living woman for the position.

Couple things: David Carr is one of those journalist's journalists who is universally admired by journalists. I fucking love David Carr. But naming David Carr as your ideal editor is akin to naming Sherlock Holmes your ideal murder task force leader. He's not only the universally accepted gold standard, he's also unavailable. I can't help but view Denton's comment as a strange nexus of trumped-up self-mythologizing and willful blindness towards the actual state of one's media company, which here seems like it could stand to include some not-white-cis-straight-dude voices.

Originally set to run on Gawker, and edited by former interim editor in chief Leah Beckmann, the piece was killed by Gawker executive editor John Cook, for reasons detailed here. The piece quotes a number of high-profile female staffers at Gawker, many of whom (understandably) spoke off the record. One of the most galling factoids comes from Jezebel's former features editor, Tracie Morrissey, who recounted a time in 2014 when anonymous asshats were posting graphic images of sexual assault to the site—for months, from burner accounts—without Gawker higher-ups running necessary interference.

“It took me four years to build up a callus where I didn’t care anymore and I was able to not read how much people hated me. That was so awful psychologically. It’s way worse for women and it’s way worse when you’re writing about women’s issues and it’s way worse when you’re forced to look at graphic images of sexual assault. No one did anything about the rape gif issue until we wrote a public story and called them out for it," Morrissey told Evans.

It gets worse, and it's essential reading if you care at all about gender equality in publishing. I'm going to retreat to my crying cupboard with a bucket of whiskey, but you should certainly read the whole thing.