Gawker editor-in-chief Max Read has resigned in protest of a decision to take down a controversial post that founder Nick Denton called “pure poison to our reputation.”
“This was not an easy decision. I hope the partnership group recognizes the degree to which it has betrayed the trust of editorial, and takes steps to materially reinforce its independence,” Read wrote in a memo on Gawker’s website on Monday.
Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Craggs resigned from his position as well.
The resignations follow a tumultuous weekend for Gawker Media. Last Thursday evening, the website published a story by staff writer Jordan Sargent that claimed that a Conde Nast executive attempted to solicit a gay escort.
A day later, after a firestorm of criticism, Denton issued a notice saying that the post would be taken down. Denton said that the decision included a vote by the managing partners of the company, which includes business side employees.
“It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement,” Denton wrote on Friday about the take down.
In a Monday note to edit employees, Denton said that he “was ashamed to have my name and Gawker’s associated with a story on the private life of a closeted gay man who some felt had done nothing to warrant the attention.” He also apologized to Sargent, whom he said was “exposed to such traumatizing hatred online, just for doing his job.”
Denton also referenced the upcoming Hulk Hogan sex tape case against Gawker and its potential legal implications for the company.
He also said that editorial needs a “calibration more than a radical shift: … close to the edge, but not over it” and mentioned that the site could now exist in between the sensibilities of more mainstream Vox Media sites and new tabloid web start-up Ratter.
In the resignation note on Monday, Read stated: “Ultimately my decision is about the process by which this happened. If the partnership had not conducted some kind of utterly opaque backroom vote to delete it—if we had simply posted Nick’s note, as much I disagreed with and disliked it—I think this Monday would be very different.”