In news that goes back to the end of Gawker…
Earlier this evening, our acquirer Unimoda invoked the provision in the Gawker Media Group WGA-East contract regarding the removal of posts. I was informed that Felipe Holguin, the chief operating officer of Fusion Media Group, had been named interim CEO of Gawker Media, and Jay Grant, the general counsel of Fusion Media Group, had been named interim general counsel of Gawker Media. As you know, the collective bargaining agreement calls for a majority vote among the general counsel, CEO, and executive editor before a post is removed. Taken together, the persons occupying those roles comprise an Editorial Independence Committee under the agreement.
Felipe and Jay proposed that seven posts—all on Jezebel, Deadspin, or Gizmodo—be deleted.[/quote]
Felipe and Jay explained that they proposed deleting those seven posts because they are currently the subject of active litigation against Gawker Media, and that Unimoda had been authorized only to purchase the assets, and not the liabilities, of the company. Though the posts were published by Gawker Media, and therefore under the so-called “first publication rule” should only be the legal responsibility of the Gawker Media estate being left behind in the transaction, Unimoda’s legal analysis was that the continued publication of the posts under the new entitity would constitute the adoption of liability, and that Unimoda is therefore obligated to delete them. Felipe and Jay represented to me that their decision to propose deletion of the posts was purely a function of the terms of the transaction, and that Univision and Unimoda are committed to defending our journalism against any future legal threats or attacks.
I communicated to Felipe and Jay in the strongest terms that deleting these posts is a mistake, and that disappearing true posts about public figures simply because they have been targeted by a lawyer who conspired with a vindictive billionaire to destroy this company is an affront to the very editorial ethos that has made us successful enough to be worth acquiring. I told them that I am proud that this company refused to delete its accurate posts about Shiva Ayudurrai’s false claim to have invented the email system of communication, and that I am proud that our decision not to take down accurate posts about Mitch Williams’ meltdown at a children’s baseball game was vindicated by a federal judge, who ruled in our favor in his case against us. I am mortified to see them taken down now. We are at the center of an unprecedented assault on the ability of reporters and editors to challenge and critique public figures. While I believe that Univision is a company that values and defends aggressive, independent reporting, the decision to remove these posts is, in my view, at odds with its tradition of confronting bullies with honesty.
I cast my vote against taking down each of the posts. I lost. With the exception of #5, which is the target of a copyright complaint, Felipe and Jay cast their votes in favor of removal. The transaction is expected to close at 11:59 p.m. tonight. The posts will be removed over the weekend. With respect to #5: I argued that removing the photo that was targeted in the copyright complaint, but keeping the text of the post online, should satisfy Unimoda’s concerns about liability. Jay agreed to table a decision on that post pending further legal analysis.
I asked that I be able to propose language to replace each post indicating that it had been taken down, why, and by whom. Jay agreed to consider that request and to review my proposed text.
I am proud to have worked for a company that has fought, to the bitter end, against cynical and craven attempts to silence our work. Despite this defeat, I hope that Univision’s attitude to our journalism going forward will permit me to regain that sense of pride.
The list of posts getting deleted is in the full article.