For those new to the Gawker saga and struggling to keep up (and I certainly am), we've decided to put together a "Best Of" of the Gawker scandals over the years. Of course, Gawker Media are a company who's mission has always been to court scandal and seek controversy; fitting that with a $115M lawsuit lost to Hulk Hogan and with additional damages still to be rewarded, scandal and controversy are likely to bury them financially too. Events are in chronological order.
April 6, 2007 - Emily Gould, Gawker Editor defends 'Gawker Stalker' on the Jimmy Kimmel show, ignoring accusations from guests that it could lead to real stalkings and attacks. Laughing at the suggestion that someone might be killed, she giggles coquettish and channels her best Dolores Umbridge, shrugging it off with sociopathic glee. She defends her 'Stalker Map' as "citizen journalism", saying that people who read it "don't expect it to be gospel." This starts Gawker's insistence that "no one has the reasonable expectation of privacy".
May 11, 2010 - Gawker posts a video of the young woman engaged in a sex act in a bathroom stall at a Bloomington sports bar. Despite the fact they are contacted and told "I am the girl in it and it was stolen from me and put up without my permission" - Gawker refuses to take down the video. Later evidence shows that even though Editor Albert “A.J.” Daulerio knew it was "possibly rape", Gawker's complaint department sent this note to him headed "Blah, blah, blah". Daulerio tells the women "do not make a big deal out of this", supported by the Gawker team who insist the video is "newsworthy". They later remove it.
Jan 8, 2013 - After filing a Freedom of Information request with the NYPD, Gawker Editor John Cook publishes a list of all handgun owners in New York. In addition, he encourages readers to (and I quote) "look no further" if they want to dig up addresses - directing them to shady anonymous spreadsheets where "the addresses of 300,000 are freely available". One commenter writers, "The journal posted my address and name for my gun ownership. My past stalker saw this. I haven't heard from him in two years, because I disappeared. Now he is back and calling me......thanks to people like you bunch of a*******, looks like I will have to protect myself from becoming a murder victim. Gracias."
July 20, 2015 - Two Senior Editors, Tommy Craggs and Max Read resign from Gawker Media following controversy over article 'outing' Condé Nast CFO David Geithner. The controversy came from the fact that a) Geithner was not a celebrity or a famous person, just an ordinary guy, and b) The 'news piece' essentially amounted to a revenge-outing and the worst kind of malicious destructive blackmail. After Gawker decided to pull the piece, then Editor-in-Chief Read claimed "That non-editorial business executives were given a vote in the decision to remove is an unacceptable and unprecedented breach of the editorial firewall." British people were reminded of the Phone Hacking Scandal, and wondered how this pair kept out of jail.
Those are just a few of the most memorable events in Gawker history that come to mind when we asked around Adland HQ. But now you're caught up, let's take an advertising perspective. Do you think brands should still be advertising on Gawker after all of this? Well, are they? Let's find out. We took a trip to a few Gawker-owned website to discover who's currently giving them money.
Kotaku: We got served an ad for the new 'Hitman' game.
Imagine if the people behind 'Hitman' started getting contacted on twitter and received hundreds of emails to investor relations. We are sure Square Enix would be forced to pull all their ads from Gawker.
Jezebel: We got served an ad from 'CASA for Children'.
"Give abused and neglected children a voice..."
Meanwhile in the Hulk Hogan sex tape case:
“Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?”
Daulerio: “If they were a child.”
“Under what age?” attorney Charles Harder asked.
“Four,” he said.
Make sure those abused and neglected kids are at least five ... then they're fair game for the Gawker network!
Wouldn't it be a shame if someone were to point that out to the charity?
Send an email of complaint
Gizmodo: We got served an ad for 'Johnson Cornell University'.
Do they know they are advertising on the Gawker network?
Emails of their entire marketing and communications team
Now these are just three examples I've pulled at random.
The point being - do Square Enix, CASA for Children, and Johnson Cornell University know that they are advertising on Gawker network? And would they continue to do so, if they received a huge amount of negative publicity for it? It's shocking to me, that in this day and age, people are still advertising with Gawker. I can only assume they are unawares. And THAT is the problem with buying digital space. You never know which gutter your prestigious company, your charity, or your university, will end up in. As for these examples - would they be happy to learn their brands are on the landing pages of a company who made news into a four letter word?