paper trail

Washington Post gets the boot; Gawker grieves

Emma Cline

After the Washington Post used the headline “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting” on its front page, Trump announced in a Facebook post that he was revoking the “phony and dishonest” newspaper’s press credentials. The Post has since changed the headline to read “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.” It referred to Trump’s appearance on Fox News on Monday, during which he suggested Obama ought to resign for not using the term “radical Islam” in his address to the nation on Sunday. “He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands,” Trump told Fox. “There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.” The Post joins Politico, Univision, Buzzfeed, the Des Moines Register, and the Huffington Post in the list of news organizations Trump has banned from covering his campaign for the presidency. “RIP experiences like talking to Trump on the phone for 30 minutes about whether he cheated at golf,” tweeted Post reporter Ben Terris.

Over at the New York Times, a managing editor for standards sent a memo to the newsroom cautioning staff about the dangers of social media, in particular how journalists and public figures’ personal accounts are conflated with their jobs—in other words, Tweets are no longer their own. “On their personal social-media accounts, Times newsroom staffers should avoid editorializing, promoting their political views or taking sides on hot-button issues,” Philip Corbett advised. “We should leave the opinions to our colleagues on the Opinion side.”

Gawker—gutted by Silicon Valley-funded lawsuits and up for sale—will lose Sam Biddle, one of the reporters whose coverage of the tech industry skewed somewhere between irreverent and appalled, to the Intercept. “Gawker was a great place to become a journalist,” writes Adrian Chen in the New Yorker. Chen joined Gawker in 2009 as a night-shift editor, and describes the giddy feeling of posting articles under the cover of darkness. “The opportunity to write anything and have it appear on the front page of Gawker was exhilarating. I could put out an endless stream of swear words, make fun of someone I didn’t like, or construct a penis from numbers and symbols (8===D, haha).” Chen used Gawker’s platform to report on Silk Road, an emporium for online drug purchases, and r/jailbait, a subreddit that traded in sexually explicit photographs of minors.

What happens when the Darknet contaminates sites like Facebook or Snapchat with pornography or depictions of torture? Those mainstream sites quietly hire an army of moderators to flag and scrub the offensive material. In the New Yorker, Daniel Wenger describes this peculiar and poorly paid job—“a mix between a cop and a priest and an editor and a politician, all without being visible,” per Franco Mattes, the director of “Dark Content,” a video series about this weird seam of the gig economy.

Emma Cline, author of The Girls, a darkly sexy novelization of the Manson murders, reads tonight at BookCourt.