After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters — Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners — were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back.
Wagner's piece painted a picture of a dysfunctional workplace where cronyism and buck-passing were the order of the day, where women who'd earned promotions were leapfrogged by bros who came in with the new boss and failed spectacularly to do their jobs, then blamed the hard working people they'd stepped over for their failures.
In the wake of Wagner's piece, Deadspin's editor in chief, Megan Greenwell, resigned over the way that her bosses had handled the event, saying that she'd been "repeatedly undermined, lied to, and gaslit in my job."
The same week that Greenwell resigned, the company circulated a draft staff handbook that included the right to search employees' "personal vehicles, parcels, purses, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, lunch boxes" and to review employee emails, tweets, and communications.
The same rule prohibits the use of encrypted email systems that might frustrate employers' ability to snoop on journalists. As Mike Masnick points out, this is bonkers: telling top-notch journalists who deal with confidential sources who face retaliation and even physical violence for going public that they're not allowed to use cryptography isn't just stupid, it's malpractice. It could literally get someone killed.
Indeed, in light of the monumental stupidity and pig-ignorance behind this policy, the company's ridiculous new dress code looks positively reasonable: " Employees must arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., according to the handbook, and are required to wear 'smart casual' attire. 'Offensive' logos or 'sweatpants, exercise pants, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, biker shorts, Mini-skirts, beach dresses, midriff tops, and halter tops' are all banned."
G/O's writers are unionized, which means that bosses can't just unilaterally impose this kind of outrageous shit, so there's hope yet.
The G/O handbook declares that the company can search employees' "personal vehicles, parcels, purses, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, lunch boxes," review all electronic communications made on company property, and disclose those messages to others if the company deems it appropriate. The new rules also strangely allow the company to access reporters' "tweets" and bars employees from using encrypted email programs—a common tool journalists often use to protect highly confidential sources.
This Is How Things Work Now At G/O Media [Laura Wagner/Deadspin]
Deadspin Editor Quits, Rails Against Bosses: 'I've Been Repeatedly Lied To and Gaslit' [Maxwell Tani/The Daily Beast]
Gizmodo Media's Clueless New Owners Tell Reporters They Can't Use Encrypted Email Any More [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]