Despite Gawker founder Nick Denton maintaining a stake in Vox Media since 2013, Vox appears not to have disclosed a conflict of interest in its coverage of either Gawker or Denton.
To make matters worse, in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation, it appears that Vox doesn’t feel ethically inclined to disclose when it’s covering a person who has a six-figure stake in their company.
In fact, up until now, neither Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode, which is a web property owned by Vox media, nor Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of Vox, had any idea Denton had investments in Vox Media.
“Neither Kara or Ezra were aware of the shares, and had no duty to disclose even if they were,” a Vox Media spokesperson told TheDCNF. “His holdings simply are not large enough to require any such disclosure, and have no impact whatsoever on the governance of the company.”
After Gawker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday, Politico found that an expert report on Denton’s finances filed back in December showed he held 5,000 shares of Vox Media.
Denton’s ownership stake came about after Vox Media purchased Curbed in 2013, a real estate blog network Denton had investments in since 2007. That ownership in Curbed then became ownership in Vox Media and was valued at around $150,000. It’s unclear if Denton still owns those shares, as he’s recently been shuffling around his assets since the $140 million judgment came through against him and Gawker Media.
As an example of restructuring, Denton’s had to put his SoHo apartment up for rent at $15,000 a month.
But he hinted to The Daily Caller News Foundation that he still, in fact, does own those shares. Also in the statement is an indication that as far as he’s concerned, conflict of interest disclosures are irrelevant because his investment in Curbed, now owned by Vox Media, was disclosed at a single point in time in 2007.
“My small economic interest in Curbed, which Vox acquired, has been widely known for nearly a decade,” Denton told TheDCNF.
It doesn’t seem as though Gawker Media has ever disclosed Denton’s investment relationship with Vox Media in any of its coverage of Vox. The same appears true in the reverse. Numerous Vox articles on Gawker fail to mention Denton’s relationship with Vox Media.
In a recent case, Swisher conducted an extensive interview with Denton regarding Gawker’s future in light of the $140 million judgment and an open discussion on what kind of information counts as being newsworthy. Swisher did not disclose Denton’s financial relationship with Vox Media.
A litany of other articles at Vox similarly do not disclose Denton’s financial relationship with Vox Media, including a piece by Timothy B. Lee titled, “Gawker’s bankruptcy doesn’t mean the end of Gawker.”
Klein also wrote a piece in late May with the title, “Gawker was irresponsible, but the precedent Peter Thiel is setting is dangerous.”
A story back in 2014 by Todd VanDer Werff featured the title, “#GamerGate’s scary plan to wipe Gawker Media from the face of the Earth.”
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