×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Writers Guild Objects to Univision’s Removal of Gawker Posts

The Writers Guild of America East has objected to Univision’s removal of six posts on Gawker Media websites because those posts are involved in lawsuits.

Univision, which acquired six Gawker sites last month for $135 million, said Saturday that the decision “was based on a desire to have a clean slate” as it attempts to grow the acquired websites. Univision did not to describe the litigation related to the posts.

The guild, which negotiated a contract for Gawker staffers that was ratified in March by an 88-2 vote, said it was “deeply troubled” by the action in a five-sentence statement.

“The WGAE learned late Friday that UniModa had decided to remove several posts from Jezebel, Deadspin, and Gizmodo based on concerns that the posts, all the subject of ongoing litigation, would put UniModa in the position of assuming liabilities that could result from the lawsuits,” the statement said. “The Guild and its members at the former Gawker Media sites are deeply troubled by this. Though UniModa has offered assurances that it is committed to robust, fearless journalism, this move seems to belie that claim.”

“We hope to continue the productive relationship we established with management at Gawker Media, but the decision to remove these posts casts a significant pall over Unimoda’s claimed commitment to the core values of our members employed by UniModa,” the statement also said. “Union members will be meeting early next week to discuss an appropriate response to the company’s decision.”

John Cook, Gawker’s executive editor, objected to the decision and said in a memo to the staff the deleting these posts is a “mistake.” Felipe Holguin, interim chief executive of Gawker Media, and Jay Grant, interim general counsel, voted to remove the posts.

“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,” Cook wrote.

Univision’s acquisition of Gawker Media assets did not include Gawker.com, which ceased publishing on Aug. 22 although the website remains accessible. That was the culmination of long battles with wrestler Hulk Hogan and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Hogan had won a $140 million judgment in March against Gawker Media, its founder Nick Denton, and one of its editors over Gawker’s publication of a sex tape featuring Hogan, whose suit was funded by Thiel.

The six articles that Univision removed — which have garnered more than 1.1 million views in aggregate — are: Gizmodo’s “The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email?” and “Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended To Invent”; Deadspin’s “Wait, Did Clowntroll Blogger Chuck Johnson Shit On The Floor One Time?,” “Mitch Williams Ejected from Child’s Baseball Game for Arguing, Cursing,” and “Mitch Williams Called Child ‘A Pussy,’ Ordered Beanball”; and Jezebel’s “Man Acquitted of Sexual Assault Sues Blog for Calling Him Serial Rapist.”

“This story is no longer available as it is the subject of pending litigation against the prior owners of this site,” reads the text on each of the pulled articles. The article pages have removed the headlines and body copy; they continue to serve ads and include reader comments.

In a memo Saturday to Gawker Media staff, Isaac Lee, Univision’s chief news, entertainment and digital officer, said the decision to remove the posts “does not reflect an editorial judgment about their content” and that it was not a “precedent for the future.”

“When Univision acquired the assets of Gawker Media Group, it did so with the understanding that it would not inherit any risk of liability for pending cases. That was a necessary condition for the deal that allowed us to acquire Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Kotaku, and Lifehacker,” Lee wrote in the memo.

Lee added that he is a board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the journalism advisory board of not-for-profit news org ProPublica, “and I believe that my track record proves how deeply committed I am to the freedom of the press and how seriously I take the journalistic mission to provide news and information to the public.”

More Digital

  • Sony Innovation Fund Invests in Location

    Sony Invests in Geolocation Startup Used to Shoot ‘Ready Player One’

    Sony’s venture capital arm, the Sony Innovation Fund, has invested in London-based What3words, a geolocation startup that aims to provide human-readable and easily shareable names for each and every location on the planet. What3words was previously used to share locations for the production of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” and has also had cameos in [...]

  • Netflix and Amazon on Different Sides

    Netflix and Amazon Take Different Sides on Content Regulation in India

    Netflix and other leading streaming video platforms have signed an agreement to self-regulate content in the booming Indian market. But Amazon and Facebook are so far sitting out. The new “Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers,” created by the Internet and Mobile Assn. of India, has been signed by Netflix, Hotstar, Sony Liv, [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

    South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix. The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS [...]

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft Hints at Mixed Reality Update for Mobile World Congress

    Microsoft may give us an update on its Mixed Reality ambitions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month: The company sent out invites for a press conference Wednesday that list Alex Kipman, who leads its augmented and virtual reality efforts, among the speakers. Kipman will speak together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content