Former Gawker writer Dayna Evans recently published an indictment of the company’s dismal treatment of its female staffers. Written as a response to the company’s commitment to “radical transparency,” the piece was approved by company brass before being killed by Gawker Media’s executive editor, John Cook. It is a damning look at a media organization reckoning with its very public lip service to diversity commitments and its private failure to live up to them.
...this is a story about the unseen women of Gawker Media. I no longer work at Gawker, and as of two weeks ago neither does the woman who edited this story, Leah Beckmann, who for four months served as interim editor-in-chief of Gawker.com. At the end of October, a permanent EIC for the site was named: Alex Pareene, a well-liked former Gawker writer with undeniable qualifications for the job. This was the first bit of company news in a long while to receive uniformly positive notices both within the company and without, but there was a context to his hiring that didn’t receive due attention anywhere. As Beckmann told me a few months ago, when I was still on staff, “To say that Gawker treats men and women equally is simply untrue.”
The problems at Gawker Media are by no means unique to Nick Denton’s flagship property—they’re endemic to the media itself. Each year, VIDA, an organization whose mission “is to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture,” releases a count of women in the media; it’s illuminating to see the disparities between public commitment and what actually goes on behind closed doors. Find last year’s numbers here. We can do better.