Gawker founder Nick Denton is stepping down as the company’s president, but he will stay on as CEO.
“I have some important news,” he wrote to staff on Wednesday. “Usually, that’s how I start a conversation with someone who is being promoted, or fired. This time, that conversation is about me: my solo leadership of this company, and the collective management that is going to replace it.”
Denton then announced the formation of a seven-person partnership that will collectively make the website’s decisions, led by new president Heather Dietrick, who was previously general counsel of Gawker Media.
“Don’t get me wrong. I am not stepping down as CEO,” Denton continued, even though it’s a title he “doesn’t even like.” He went on to say with the removal of his responsibilities, he’ll free up valuable time to get back his basics: blogging.
Read the staff memo below:
Anyway, I’ve negotiated a compromise deal. I will continue my duties as CEO. I will be relaxed and confident in the knowledge that I have a capable deputy. I will be able to participate in editorial, product and advertising brainstorms, without so overpowering the conversation. I really hope that. And in the new year, give me a few days, I want to resume the activity that brings the best out of me: blogging.
As a company, we are getting back to blogging. It’s the only truly new media in the age of the web. It is ours. Blogging is the essential act of journalism in an interactive and conversational age. Our bloggers surface buried information, whether it’s in an orphaned paragraph in a newspaper article, or in the government archives. And we can give the story further energy by tapping readers for information, for the next instalment of the story, and the next round of debate.
Denton also conceded to he and Gawker making mistakes, saying: “In our external communications, in our stories, we sometimes shied away from controversy, fearful of online critics. We weren’t ourselves. We — the freest journalists on the planet — were slaves to the Facebook algorithm.”
Denton founded Gawker in 2003 with Elizabeth Spiers, but it is he who’s been the site’s face; through every attack on its journalistic — or lack of — virtue to its big stories, like introducing the “Fox News mole,” a dispirited FNC producer who leaked internal information to Gawker only to be quickly discovered days later.
Gawker has become a staple in the online media community — seen by some as a key broker in the art of snark, attacked by others as the Internet version of “Mean Girls.”
Whatever way you look at Denton — or Gawker — one thing is true. One of the web’s original blogging kings is back.