When half of a media outlet’s editorial staff decides to jump ship, chances are it will be reported first on the media gossip blog Gawker — even, it turns out, when those departures are from Gawker itself. The New York Times reported today that Emily Gould, a Gawker editor, dropped the bomb: both she and Choire Sicha, the site’s top editor, were quitting. A third editor, Joshua David Stein, confirmed on Saturday that he was leaving, too.
“Choire’s departure as managing editor, and that of his blogger protégés, will obviously be a complete pain,” Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media, which includes 13 other sites, wrote in an e-mail message. “But we’ve been through it before, three times, and this change of the guard does give us the opportunity to accelerate the transformation of Gawker from cute blog to fully-fledged news site.”
Reached by telephone, both Ms. Gould and Mr. Stein said their departures were predicated partly on Mr. Sicha leaving. Ms. Gould, who has been with Gawker for a year, said she was upset about a new compensation system that pays writers according to how many times people view their blog posts rather than only by how many posts they write. The system, she said, pits writers against one another.
“It really gets in your head in this weird way because you’re getting so conscious of how many people are reading what,” Ms. Gould said. “You get focused on being sensational and even more brain candyish than Gawker was to start with.”
Two weeks after complaining about the page-view-pay system in a post on Gawker in September, another Gawker staff writer, Alex Balk, quit and took a job at Radar magazine.