It’s almost as if you shouldn’t run completely unsubstantiated, unverified stories from functionally anonymous emailers and then convince yourself that there’s some, like, totally deep and challenging thinking behind the process that led you to make the mistake in the first place, because you’re raging against the man and his antiquated “rules” about journalism. (Even though 90% of your content comes from the old man’s media, in one way or the other.) That’s the big problem, really, with all of Gawker media– this oppositional, “we’re revolutionaries for a cause” thinking forces them into believing that all of their various indiscretions can be excused as part of some big fight against traditional media. And frankly, that’s bogus. I mean, try this on for size. This is not an apology. It’s the definition of a non-apology apology. But they really made a mistake, that baseball coach really had his reputation damaged, and it really is an instance where it would be appropriate to just say “we screwed up” without all the excuses and rationalization. I just really wonder if Deadspin is capable of straight-up apology when they’re so obsessed with fighting “the old guard” or whatever.
I think the real problem is the commenters. Check the comments on these posts and you’ll see that the commenters take offense at the idea that Deadspin should apologize for anything. Partially, I think this is an artifact of how cynically Nick Denton has manipulated the people who care about his sites the most. By creating these multiple tiers of commenting privileges, by having commenter “auditions” and gated comments, Gawker Media creates this sense of exclusivity and importance that a lot of the commenters seem to crave. (I’ve got a commenting star! I’m somebody!) And so they get invested emotionally in the whole endeavor, even though Denton would sell any one of them out for a couple dozen more page views. Whatever the reason, this “Gawker can do no wrong” attitude is exactly why Deadspin isn’t taken seriously when it wants to be, when it publishes long-form journalism it clearly sees as serious and worthwhile. Because you can’t have it both ways; you can’t be a trove of unsubstantiated rumors and innuendos at one moment and then a publisher of serious reportage the next. It doesn’t work that way.
Update: In the interests of full disclosure, my Facebook account is banned from Deadspin, as it is on fellow Gawker blog Gizmodo. So that may say something, I dunno.