Archive for Gawker

On Rooting For Meteors…

Posted in Grumblings with tags on June 10, 2016 by chemiclord

Way back in 1987 when I was still a kid, I was picking up the paper for my grandfather, and one of the headlines on the front was about the NBA Finals featuring the Boston Celtics and the Los Angles Lakers.

Not fully understanding the rivalry among the Detroit Pistons faithful for both teams at that age, I asked my grandfather who he was rooting for.  He looked at me with a wary eye and said simply,

“The meteor.”

“Rooting for the meteor” as I came to learn it stemmed from that rather gruesome place where you really don’t like either side of a contest, where there’s a sense that in a way you lose regardless of who wins.  I’ve kinda struggled with this scenario outside the sports world as the disaster between Gawker Media and the various lawsuits that have driven it to bankruptcy, as well as the billionaire that had been bankrolling many of those lawsuits in secret.

On one hand, we have Gawker.  While I have on occasion enjoyed their attempts at legitimate journalism, and have commented on articles from Jezebel, Kotaku, and Deadspin (among others), at the same time the media organization has run and stubbornly clung to “articles” that not even tabloids would have touched simply because they served no purpose other than spite… one of which being “outing” the not-so-secret sexuality of the billionaire that went after them in retaliation, Peter Thiel.

Make no mistake, Gawker’s done more than enough things that should have gotten them buried years ago.  From attacking executives that had no significance simply because they were a rival, to posting segments of sex tapes because apparently transcripts just simply weren’t telling enough… this is a well deserved result for the company.

But then, on the other hand, we have billionaire Peter Thiel, who despite claims that his sexuality wasn’t particularly a secret seemed to go out of his way to make sure it wasn’t discussed.

Had Thiel simply sued Gawker himself, and put his own stamp on this, I would have been wholly in his corner.  But instead, he started bankrolling other lawsuits, making sure that the arguments arranged would avoid insurance payout and directly hurt Gawker’s pocketbook in the process, so that he could operate largely anonymously until his scheme had basically reached fruition.

The tactic itself (using a superior bankroll to effectively bully smaller parties into submission) is hardly new, and is pretty despicable.  To do so in secret is even worse in my mind.  The idea that someone with enough money could effectively destroy someone else without even needing to show their face makes me ill, especially considering that “small” independent media is increasingly becoming the only way to find journalism as free from bias as possible.

It’s a worrying precedent to be sure, and a play I really don’t want to see become prevalent in the already thick playbook for the wealthy of our society.

So yeah… I guess I’m rooting for the meteor in this one.

On Gawker and Journalistic Responsibility…

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , , on July 18, 2015 by chemiclord

I’m not keen on going into details, mostly because anyone who doesn’t know shouldn’t be informed on the specifics (and I’ll get to why later) and anyone else doesn’t need a recap.

But the general thrust is that Gawker media ran an article that they shouldn’t have, and was forced to retract it after severe blowback by the community at large, despite the union’s protest that such unilateral action should not be accepted.  There is a process, they say, and they can’t let the business side of things subvert that process, even if the article isn’t deemed appropriate.

On one hand, I understand that.  Once you say, “Well… okay…” and give in without a fight, that sets a precedent.  Now your business-side can yank anything they feel hurts the bottom line and say, “Well, you let us do it with this article…” and once you let executives do that, it really kills the journalistic integrity that is vital for a publication to be given any weight in the public eye.

But there is another side that Internet reporting is finally starting to discover now that they’ve won the war with the old guard of media; journalistic responsibility.

Journalism has a responsibility not only to report the truth, but also to report the relevant.  There was absolutely nothing relevant about the article that was removed.  It didn’t expose any blatant hypocrisy.  It didn’t show a dark side that no one realized existed.  It was a hit piece, designed to do damage to a rival website, and nothing more.

Make no mistake, the old guard failed their responsibility quite often, and so this is hardly a new conundrum.  Back when the war for journalism was still being fought, the Internet reporting community felt only one question truly mattered; “Is it true?”  And when you’re fighting a pretty obviously compromised and corrupted fourth estate, that’s really the only question that needed to matter.

But now, as the bulk of Americans (and possibly the world) are now turning to Internet reporting like Gawker as their primary source of information… “is it true” isn’t enough on its own.  Hopefully, this is a lesson Gawker has learned, and other information centers on the Internet will learn through this example.