July 21, 2015 Last Updated 1:58 pm

Gawker loses two editors as company pulls controversial story; Apple, Microsoft to report earnings after the bell

Morning Brief: Gawker management votes to take down story on iffy magazine executive, staff and editors make a stand for independence of editorial department, lose, editors resign, lesson learned

The staff of Gawker is learning an important lesson about freedom of the press: freedom of the press applies to those that own the press, everyone else is just an employee.

ND-230The life lesson is being learned following the publication of an article about the attempt by a Conde Nast executive to hire a gay escort. The article seen as going to far even for Gawker, which often is seen as going too far… but not this far. While few of Gawker’s editorial staff would defend the story, the decision by Gawker’s founder, Nick Denton (at right), to delete the story was criticized by the editorial staff as an intrusion into editorial staff prerogatives.

Our union drive has expressed at every stage of the process that one of our core goals is to protect the editorial independence of Gawker Media sites from the influence of business-side concerns. Today’s unprecedented breach of the firewall, in which business executives deleted an editorial post over the objections of the entire executive editorial staff, demonstrated exactly why we seek greater protection. Our opinions on the post are not unanimous but we are united in objecting to editorial decisions being made by a majority of non-editorial managers. Disagreements about editorial judgment are matters to be resolved by editorial employees. We condemn the takedown in the strongest possible terms.

Denton’s decision to delete the post apparently came after major advertisers pushed back against Gawker editorial – the website is already fighting a $100 million lawsuit involving Hulk Hogan.

craggs-230Following Denton’s move to delete the post Tommy Craggs (at right), executive editor of Gawker Media, editor Max Read, resigned.

“On Friday, I told my fellow managing partners—Nick Denton, founder and CEO; Heather Dietrick, president; Andrew Gorenstein, president of advertising and partnerships; Scott Kidder, chief operating officer; and Erin Pettigrew, chief strategy officer—I would have to resign if they voted to remove a story I’d edited and approved,” Tommy Craggs wrote in a memo to staff. “The article, about the Condé Nast CFO’s futile effort to secure a remote assignation with a pricey escort, had become radioactive. Advertisers such as Discover and BFGoodrich were either putting holds on their campaigns or pulling out entirely.”

The Gawker staff may think they are fighting for the independence of the editorial staff, but they fail to understand that the only way to be truly independent would be to walk out and start their own website. Until that happens, ownership will always be able to make final decisions. Editorial independence is not about complete freedom, it is about the day to day management of editorial. But once a bad decision is made, one that causes economic harm to the company, ownership will inevitably interfere with editorial independence.

Well, whatever. It’s Gawker, and Gawker readers know what to expect from Gawker, and so do advertisers. And this is probably keeping Denton up at nights.

After the bell today Apple reports Q3 earnings (Apple’s Q1 is October-December), and most investors are not expecting a surprise – that is, a miss. They’re probably right, Apple really doesn’t like surprises anymore which is why it tends to leak news of its events well before hand as they test reactions. If Apple were about to miss revenue or income it would have made sure someone in the media knew.

That doesn’t mean, though, that Apple will not report some weak iPad numbers. Most forecasts I have seen have iPad sales about 10 percent or more below the same quarter a year ago.

Also reporting today will be Microsoft, which recently announced staff cutbacks, something usually done prior to a poor earnings report as a sort of preventative medicine. Forecasts are for somewhat lower revenue as the company continues to try and more in new directions, shedding old products and weening itself off of Office and Windows.

Later this week, Thursday, Amazon reports its earnings, and they may prove the most interesting as the company is expected to report another loss in the quarter.

There were no media app updates released last night, a rarity, but also a sign that they latest iOS update didn’t break anything, which I suppose is good.

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