November 16, 2015

Matter | Alex Pareene’s Kinja page

A former staff writer at Gawker Media has leveled accusations of gender inequality at the company in an essay, drawing a response from Gawker’s editor in chief and prompting a public discussion among the outlet’s current and former staffers about the treatment of female journalists.

The article, a nearly 6,000-word longread titled “On Gawker’s Problem With Women,” contains anecdotes that describe a newsroom culture where women are paid less, passed over for plum assignments and overlooked by the company’s top bosses. It’s written by Dayna Evans, who left the company this summer amid a round of buyouts offered in the wake of a controversial post about a media executive.

The piece explores at length tensions between female staffers and Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, noting public references to the site’s standout male journalists and perceived slights directed at members of the opposite sex. Up high in the story, Evans references a New York Times interview in which Denton described his ideal executive editor, former “Media Equation” columnist David Carr:

Denton was posturing for New York Times readers, but the message unwittingly sent to the female writers and editors of Gawker was that their boss would sooner name a dead man than any living woman for the position. This notion was then further confirmed in Denton’s treatment (or rather, maltreatment) of’s former features editor, Leah Finnegan, a woman whom many in the company assumed was in line for the editor-in-chief job herself — that is, if she happened to be a man named John.

Evans also describes a lackadaisical reaction from Gawker Media managers in response to rape .GIFs being posted in the comments of stories on Jezebel, the company’s female-oriented site:

The idea that the well-being of the women at Gawker Media was considered only when there was a public outrage over it is not just something that happened in a vacuum, nor is it something of the distant past. Only a few months following the rape gif controversy, the Gawker office seating chart was leaked to The Awl, a boys’ club oversight made without considering the real threats that were lobbied against women writers at the company (and on a larger scale, in the media) every day.

The essay was originally slated to run on, but it was killed by Gawker Media Executive Editor John Cook, who reportedly told Evans that he was “done with Gawker writing about Gawker.” That decision was made despite protests from Alex Pareene, the newly minted editor in chief of

Evans’ essay prompted Pareene to respond on Kinja, Gawker Media’s community discussion platform. In his post, Pareene vowed to help fix the problem, saying he wanted Gawker to become a place where talented female writers can “grow, advance, and thrive.”

Some of the voices in it belong to people I’ve admired (and been proud to call my friends) for years. Others are people currently on the staff of the site I’ve recently inherited. I need to do right by them, and I promise that I will do everything in my power to make sure that Gawker is an equitable and fair workplace.

Several current and former Gawker Media staffers responded to Evans’ piece on Twitter, many who echoed or otherwise endorsed her essay.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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