Two of Gawker's top editors are resigning Monday in response to the gossip site's decision to remove a controversial story, USA Today reports.
Tommy Craggs, executive director of Gawker Media, and Max Read, Gawker's editor-in-chief, both sent emails to staff announcing their resignation.
As USA Today points out, the men edited and approved a story last Thursday that detailed David Geithner, the CFO of Conde Nast, allegedly contacting a gay porn star/escort. The post sparked a wide media controversy, with many social media users taking issue with the story because it involved "outing" a man who is arguably not a public figure. Some even called for a boycott on Gawker.
Geithner has denied all allegations.
Nick Denton, CEO and founder of Gawker, had the story removed after critics, readers and advertisers took issue with the post. Some people on social media suggested one of the reasons why Gawker ran with the story is because Conde Nast owns Reddit, one of Gawker's major competitors.
Craggs said he submitted his resignation Friday.
"I stand by the post," Craggs wrote in his letter, published on Gawker. "Whatever faults it might have belong to me, and all the public opprobrium being directed at Jordan Sargent, a terrific reporter, should come my way instead."
Sargent was the author of the now-deleted story.
Craggs added that Discover and BFGoodrich were ending their business relationships with Gawker, or at least pausing their campaigns.
Read also explained his resignation.
"I am able to do this job to the extent that I can believe that the people in charge are able, when faced with difficult decisions, to back up their stated commitments to transparency, fearlessness, and editorial independence," Read wrote in his email to the managing partners. "In the wake of Friday's decision and Tommy's resignation I can no longer sustain that belief. I find myself forced to resign, effective immediately."
Nevertheless, Denton said posting the story is "a decision I regret" in a statement to Gawker Friday.
"It concerns a senior business executive at one of the most powerful media companies on the planet," he wrote. "Not only is criticism of yesterday's piece from readers intense, but much of what they've said has resonated. I believe this public mood reflects a growing recognition that we all have secrets, and they are not all equally worthy of exposure. ...This story about the former Treasury Secretary's brother does not rise to the level that our flagship site should be publishing."
The Guardian reports that in an email to staffers, Denton said of the post, "These are the stories we used to do. But times have changed."
Gawker's managing partnership decided to take down the post in a four-to-two vote last Friday. The two who voted against the removal were Craggs and Heather Dietrick, who approved the piece for publication as Gawker Media's chief legal counsel, the Guardian reports.
Denton also issued a statement Monday after the editors' resignation, and echoed his previous remarks:
That post wasn't what Gawker should stand for, and it is symptomatic of a site that has been out of control of editorial management. When Gawker itself is seen as sneering and callous, it affects all of us. ... This Geithner story was legal, but it could not be justified to colleagues, family members and people we respect.
To any that resign over the deep-sixing of the Geithner story, and to any that find a gentler editorial mission too limiting: I respect the strength of your convictions. This is a decision you're taking to preserve principles you believed I still shared. And since you were abiding by a policy we had not formally superseded, we will treat all resignations as being constructive dismissal, subject to severance.