WHOA! It’s always nice to start off the week with a bombshell announcement, and we’re doing it once again today. Tommy Craggs and Max Read, the two editorial leaders of Gawker Media, have resigned today as a result of last week’s disgusting report, and the subsequent decision to pull that story. I’m sure Nick Denton wishes them both well in their future endeavors. Here’s the announcement itself

Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Max Read, the editor-in-chief of Gawker.com, are resigning from the company. In letters sent today, Craggs and Read informed staff members that the managing partnership’s vote to remove a controversial post about the CFO of Condé Nast—a unprecedented act endorsed by zero editorial employees—represented an indefensible breach of the notoriously strong firewall between Gawker’s business interests and the independence of its editorial staff. Under those conditions, Craggs and Read wrote, they could not possibly guarantee Gawker’s editorial integrity.

Here is Cragg’s memo to the editorial staff of Gawker Media:

I want to give you some sense of what happened within Gawker Media on Friday, and what has happened since, as a means of explaining why I have to resign as executive editor.

On Friday, I told my fellow managing partners—Nick Denton, founder and CEO; Heather Dietrick, president; Andrew Gorenstein, president of advertising and partnerships; Scott Kidder, chief operating officer; and Erin Pettigrew, chief strategy officer—I would have to resign if they voted to remove a story I’d edited and approved. The article, about the Condé Nast CFO’s futile effort to secure a remote assignation with a pricey escort, had become radioactive. Advertisers such as Discover and BFGoodrich were either putting holds on their campaigns or pulling out entirely.

Looks like Denton couldn’t afford to lose more sponsors. Here’s Max Read, then I’ll keep updating this column as more comes in:

On Friday a post was deleted from Gawker over the strenuous objections of Tommy and myself, as well as the entire staff of executive editors. That this post was deleted at all is an absolute surrender of Gawker’s claim to “radical transparency”; 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, and turns Gawker’s claim to be the world’s largest independent media company into, essentially, a joke.

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. 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.

It’s hilarious that they chose this hill to die on, but I love it…

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From Politico:

Shortly after news of Craggs’ and Read’s resignations broke, Denton posted a lengthy statement (Google Doc) in which he took full responsibility for the decision to remove the post and “step in to save Gawker from itself.”

“It was such a breach of everything Gawker stands for actually having a post disappeared form the internet. But it was also an unprecedented misuse of independence given to editorial,” Denton wrote, adding that he was “ashamed” to have his and Gawker’s name associated with the outing of a closeted gay man.

Denton also noted there were business concerns around publishing such articles, but that they were not the ultimate reason to pull the post, saying he was thinking “in the broadest terms about the future of the company.” He included a note from a “friend of the site” who said Gawker’s brand is “confusing and damaging” because it is too “snarky”, “risky” and “bitchy without a reason.”

Denton said the story was “legal” (as in it would stand up in court) but that it would have lasting damage to Gawker’s reputation and could not be justified personally or to “journalists and opinion-makers.”

Gawker’s editorial ethos “needs a calibration more than a radical shift,” Denton wrote, but that doesn’t’ mean they need an “explicit editorial policy.” Ultimately, he said, he hopes Gawker finds a place between “a stolid Vox Media and a more anarchic Ratter; closer to the edge, but not over it.”  

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