Man Bites Dog: Editor Gripes, Publisher Listens

One of the main advantages of working at a blog instead of a big publication: You can complain about your employer in public — and not only keep your job, but get your employer to provide redress.

This morning, Gawker readers found that the blog had undergone a “takeover” on behalf of advertiser Evian — the site’s fonts had changed colour, as had the rest of the site, a button on the left hand side of the page filled it with animated water, etc. We’re quite familiar with edit vs. business tensions, and found the campaign garish but not unbearable. Gawker managing editor Choire Sicha thought it was the latter, and complained about it in a post:

There’s only one thing we can control—the creation of editorial content. So, since this website looks, in the words of one former Gawker editor, like a giant pregnancy test, shouldn’t we only be writing about babies? Or maybe just writing like babies? (Who’s an adorable website! Who is!)

Or should we not provide any editorial content at all today? Maybe the only way to negotiate with the business side is to provide them with no content, and therefore no pageviews, until they stop the encroaching madness.

If there was a strike, it didn’t last long: Sicha’s post is time-stamped 9:18am; the takeover had been fought back at 10 am. And at 12:20pm, an apology from Gawker founder Nick Denton, who says he has no problem with custom campaigns and takeovers —  within reason:

There are limits, which are broached when the advertising campaign encroaches on the editorial headlines, in this latest case, or the editorial images, in the case of Herbal Essences. We should have told the clients that wouldn’t fly — before the campaign went live. We didn’t. The Evian campaign is down now. The client, one of our most prized, was thrown unsuspecting into a classic internal struggle between ad sales and editorial. We’re sorry.

Congrats on fighting the power, Choire. And good luck trying that with future employers.

Related: How Rich Is Gawker Media’s Nick Denton?