John Cook will be temporarily taking over the position of executive editor at Gawker Media. The announcement comes after seven staffers left the company recently, including executive editor Tommy Craggs and editor-in-chief Max Read.
Cook is currently the investigations editor at the publication. The announcement came from a memo that Cook sent out this morning. It also notes that Leah Beckmann, the current deputy editor, will take over as the editor-in-chief until a permanent replacement is hired for Max Read. Hamilton Nolan, currently a senior writer at the publication, will take over Beckmann’s position.
Cook, in collaboration with Nick Denton and Heather Dietrick will set up a search committee for a new permanent executive editor in addition to identifying candidates for the position of editor-in-chief.
He will also be working on the language for a Gawker Media editorial policy to “clarify what sorts of stories we are here to do, and to prevent this sort of breach from ever happening again to any story we put our names to.”
Here is Cook’s memo in full:
Hello everyone. As some of you know, Nick and Heather have asked me to step in as acting executive editor of Gawker Media while we conduct a search for Tommy’s permanent replacement. I have agreed to do so. Lacey Donohue will stay on in her role as executive managing editor, sitting at my right hand on editorial matters, helping to guide Gawker and Jezebel while they are short-staffed, and reporting to Heather on budget and administrative issues with my consultation. While I’m in this role, I’ll have ultimate authority over any editorial staffing and personnel matters, in consultation with Nick and Heather.
At Gawker.com, Leah Beckmann has agreed to step up as acting editor-in-chief until a permanent replacement is hired for Max. And Hamilton Nolan will replace her as deputy editor.
So what does this mean? I’d like to have an editorial staff meeting in the open area on the third floor tomorrow at 4 p.m.—the usual time—to lay out my agenda and answer questions. My agenda is: A Summer of Peace. Stability. Quiet.
All I want is to help you all do your jobs and to foster a supportive, calm, and secure environment in which to produce good stories. This is a caretaker position, and I am taking it because I want to help take care of the people who’ve made this organization what it is. It’s been a god-awful two weeks. I’m not going to blow smoke up anyone’s ass and say we’ve weathered the storm and hop on board we’re headed to victory. But we are all still here, and you are some of the most talented and sought-after journalists working on the internet, and we have at our disposal—right now, at your fingertips—an immense and powerful machine for illuminating, skewering, praising, and changing the world around us. We have an amazing body of work to build on and defend, and we have colleagues who need our support. I’m here to help hold all this together—as are Lacey, Tom Scocca, Adam Pash, Alex Pareene, and Jane-Claire Quicgley—and keep the wheels pointed in a direction where, two years down the road, everyone reading this will still be free to do the shit-stirring and fearless work that has kept this company and this group of writers and editors and illustrators and videographers, for better or worse, at the center of a national conversation around the future of our business.
I’ll be here to make sure you have what you need and to represent your interests to the rest of the company as we do that.
I will be on the search committee for a new permanent executive editor with Heather and Nick, and will take the lead in identifying candidates for the Gawker editor-in-chief. I’ll also have a temporary seat on the partnership committee. The Politburo will remain in place as a service entity here to help you with stories.
Also: I will be meeting with the site leads today to begin drafting proposed language for a Gawker Media editorial policy to clarify what sorts of stories we are here to do, and to prevent this sort of breach from ever happening again to any story we put our names to.