Adding to the sturm und drang of the past several weeks, Gawker.com managing editor Gabriel Snyder announced a couple of changes late
Thursday Monday that’ll go into effect for the site’s staffers this weekend. Gawker publisher Nick Denton declined to renew weekend editor Alex Carnevale’s contract this month, so Snyder emailed informing staffers they’d begin rotating weekend shifts.
Morale has been low at the New York-based blog network: Denton axed longtime Gawker.com writer Sheila McClear last week, and the decision to put staffers on weekend duty hasn’t gone over well. We’ve got Snyder’s memo, along with mutinous words from an anonymous editor after the jump.
From: Gabriel Snyder
Date: Mon, Dec 8, 2008 at 5:29 PM
Subject: weekend news editor
As you probably know, one of the luxuries we’re going to do without for a while is a permanent weekend editor. Still, it’s important that we keep the site running through the weekend. Partly, we’re going to do this by writing weekend features in advance that can be scheduled for Saturday and Sunday morning. But we are a news site and to make sure that we don’t miss any news, I’m starting a rotation to cover a weekend news editor shift. This person will be responsible for posting beginning at 10am and doing at least six posts on Saturday and then at least four on Sunday, also starting at 10am. These are both designed to be half-day posting loads, but the news editor will be responsible for keeping on top of news as it breaks throughout the day, so don’t plan on wandering too far away from your computer. As a comp day, you will get the Friday preceding your shift off.
In order to in effect shorten the weekend, Ryan, who won’t be on the rotation, will be starting earlier on Sundays (at 1 p.m. PST) to cover the late afternoon and the evening. One effect of this is going to be that he won’t be able to do his typical comprehensive job covering the morning papers (especially the gossip columns) and weekly magazines (New Yorker and New York) on Sunday night. One result of this is it’s going to be even more important for the East Coast day people to get an early and fast start on Monday morning.
As for the weekend features. If you’re not on weekend duty, I need three feature-y posts from each of you that can be set to run over the weekend. They do not have to be long — it’s a natural time to run listicles, photo galleries and rants — but I don’t want them to be last minute things. I need your ideas by 5pm on Wednesday and then want the items themselves ready by 9am on Friday morning.
Hamilton has volunteered to take the shift for this coming weekend.
Dec. 20-21: Alex
Dec. 27–28: Richard
Jan. 3-4: Owen
Jan. 10-11: Gabriel
If you have a conflict on these dates, please let me know as soon as possible.
Moments before sending the note, Yesterday afternoon, Snyder announced a “new look” for all 12 Gawker Media blogs. The new design has a condensed front page that, according to Snyder, “will make it easier to scan more headlines and speed up the page load time.”
FishbowlNY spoke to a Gawker editor on Thursday who said being asked to work weekends irks because “it’d be one thing to pitch in and help out if the company were struggling and we were all in this together, but Nick’s being unnecessarily bearish and no one in management gives a shit about us.” Denton has been justifying the staff cuts with dire predictions about the economic crisis, even as Gawker’s revenues for the last quarter rose 39 percent. The editor also said staffers aren’t welcoming the redesign since Gawker’s management “ignored” telling the writers about the changes.
So why wouldn’t Denton deliver all of this news to his staff at once? We suspect he likes the additional coverage that comes with secrecy and rationed information far too much for that.