Entries in Nick Denton (1)

Tuesday
Jan172012

Gawker, Denton and Daulerio Get Brian Williams/Lana Del Rey Fiasco All Wrong

REVIEWING THE NEWS: The gossip site and its founder, Nick Denton, draw line in the sand of journalistic ethics after posting Brian Williams' personal e-mail about Lana Del Rey.

 

By Kenny Herzog

 

Nick Denton's Gawker Media embodies the blogosphere's curious position as unfiltered aggregator of truth and unchecked court jester. REVIEWniverse has taken the company's principal domain, Gawker.com, to task in the past for the relatively victimless distinction of boasting less-than-credible musical taste. But yesterday, Denton and his new editor-in-chief, muckraking former Deadspin Editor A.J. Daulerio, imposed a substandard of poor journalism when they posted NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' personal e-mail to Denton without consent. 

By now, you've all read that Williams wrote Denton on Sunday to join the chorus of boos hurled at last weekend's maligned SNL performer, pixie chanteusse Lana Del Rey. It was an informal, clearly personal and off-the-record correspondence in which Williams lamented that Del Rey was "the least-experienced musical guest in the show's history" and good-naturedly bemoaned that "it was a fallow holiday period for those of us who check your shit 10 times a day by iphone [sic]." And you also know that Daulerio, after what we presume was much discussion with Denton and Gawker staff, posted the e-mail verbatim on their site the following afternoon. Lastly, you've heard or seen that NBC PR (no doubt unhappy about the cross-contimination within their brand) sent Gawker a stern but reasonable demand to remove the item, and Daulerio merely updated his original story by making that correspondence public as well.

Frankly, this reeks more of Daulerio's recklessness than Denton's salacious tendencies. Either way, the gauntlet has been laid. It's clear that for Gawker (and as they go, so do countless apers), no friendship or set of basic personal or journalistic principles will stand between them and a childish impulse to determine what qualifies as "news," deliver it with irresponsible whim and no discernable point of view, and let others sort out the consequences and implications while they calculate Web traffic and turn it into liquid ad-revenue gold.

For any of us who've ever worked in a real newsroom or, as consumers, are simply adapting to the digital information age with a bit of blind faith, it's impossible to fathom that Denton and Daulerio's story could be planted with total transparency from the inside. It's depressing to consider the breakdown of accountability within an organization that, like it or not, influences more readers on an average afternoon than most major newspapers even reach in a week.

Gawker may have caught Williams in an untenable position by putting him at odds with his employing network, but something tells us we haven't heard the final word on all this. In journalism and in life, corrupting privacy and closely held relationships can have short-term gains, but almost always precipitates an eventual collapse of relevance and character. Daulerio better realize he's playing with the big boys now, because Denton's just a careless schoolyard bully.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: There has to be some kind of bar before it can be lowered.

DENTON AND DAULERIO RATING: 0/10

WE STILL LOVE BRIAN WILLIAMS RATING: 10/10

NO COMMENT ON LANA DEL REY BECAUSE THIS SITE'S EDITORS HAVE WILDLY DISSENTING OPINIONS RATING: We'll Publish Our Private E-mails About It Later/10

 

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