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Court docs show Gawker REALLY doesn't want former interns to hear about upcoming class action suit

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on September 5, 2014

From The News Desk

Last month, a court ruled that a group of former unpaid Gawker interns could mount a class action suit against the planet's most hypocritical gossip blog. All that remains is for both parties -- the interns and Gawker's management -- to agree on how best to notify former interns that they are eligible to participate.

Consider that Gawker has built its entire fortune on showing the ugly guts of media companies to the world. Consider also that Gawker is trumpeting its Kinja commenting system -- which allows anyone and everyone to discuss the news -- as the future of journalism. Consider Gawker's enthusiasm for total transparency within its workforce. Consider Gawker's obsession with social media sharing as a way to reach its target audience.

Now, having considered all these things, take a look at the ten page letter, embedded below, in which judge Alison J Nathan is informed of all the ways that Gawker wants to try to stop former interns finding out about the upcoming unpaid intern class action suit against Gawker.

In the letter, we learn that Gawker doesn't want to have to post the notice in its offices, on the basis that it no longer employs unpaid interns. But, as the plaintiffs point out, several of Gawker's current staffers began their career at the company as unpaid interns, and so would be entitled to join the class.

We also learn that Gawker doesn't want to allow social media to be used to reach prospective plaintiffs, even though that's exactly the best way to reach former interns. Especially as Gawker also admits that it cared so little for its workers that it didn't even both to keep a list of their names or addresses.

Why is Gawker so worried about notification via social media? The letter explains:

[C]reating social media groups and messages is all but certain to lead to dscussion of the lawsuit, and the underlying issues, in a forum that the Court cannot control and in which Gawker presumably cannot participate
In other words, Gawker believes that full transparency, and public discussion, is the future of journalism, unless that journalism is about the awfulness of Gawker, in which case Gawker would like a judge to stop it from happening.

Speaking of transparency, the letter also explains that Gawker does not want to have to disclose on Gawker.com the fact that it is being sued by its own former interns.  It grudgingly accepts that it can't stop the plaintiffs from creating their own website, but asks that...

Court should instruct the content of the website be limited to the notice itself, without commentary by plaintiffs' counsel and without creating any forum for discussion of the lawsuit
Because there's nothing worst that when someone takes a few facts and then adds snarky commentary, and a "forum for discussion." Or, to use the legal term: DOING EXACTLY WHAT GAWKER DOES EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY OF THE YEAR.

I'll update this post as soon as the judge responds, but it's safe to say Gawker won't be happy unless the only way the lawsuit is publicized is by a quiet man whispering about it in a dark library full of deaf people who don't understand English.

Gawker