Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Gawker's Next Move

By now, you should be aware that Jezebel posted a public complaint yesterday about the troll that has for months been assaulting their comments with graphic images. They have repeatedly complained to their higher-ups, who have failed to take any action at all.


After the post went up, it immediately went viral, and has now been viewed nearly half a million times. Gawker Media Editorial Director Joel Johnson tweeted something akin to a mea culpa.

At some point thereafter, the trolling spread to all other Gawker Media sites, including this one. That finally got some prompt action out of Johnson.


The next several days will likely be quieter, as Johnson and the GM tech team develop a more robust solution to the problem. When that fix is rolled out, there will be some people applauding Johnson for his quick action (some have already replied with thanks to the tweets posted here). This is not what should happen. The tech team at GM will deserve respect for working on a complex problem under significant pressure, both external and internal.


Johnson, on the other hand, has demonstrated catastrophically poor management by ever letting the situation come to this point. This troll should have been addressed the very first time staff complained about him. By letting the problem fester for months, he has instead been complicit in subjecting his staffers to a hostile workplace, while also exposing his most loyal consumers to unsolicited graphic content.

With that said, here's what I think Johnson and Gawker need to do after the fix rolls out:

1.) Johnson needs to issue a public apology to the staff and readers at Jezebel, explaining how the issue was allowed to remain despite repeated complaints.


2.) Gawker Media needs to reevaluate their protocol for dealing with harassment complaints. Ideally, this should be done publicly, as the current voices in the room at GM HQ clearly don't have enough experience with harassment to form a proper response plan on their own.

3.) Reconsider Johnson's future with the company. Jezebel's post was a very public vote of no confidence in their Editorial Director. How is it possible for Johnson to retain a leadership role after that?

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