John Cook – Gawker Media

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John Cook, a longtime Gawker editor, succeeds Tommy Craggs as executive editor at Gawker Media. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

John Cook, a longtime Gawker editor, will become the executive editor of Gawker Media, the portfolio of websites that was left leaderless after a tumultuous summer for the organization.

 In July, Gawker was widely condemned for publishing an article about a married male executive seeking to set up a liaison with a male escort. Faced with strong criticism, including threats to withdraw advertising, the website took down the article. Two of its senior editors, Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Max Read, the editor of Gawker.com, resigned in protest.

Since then, Mr. Cook, who is well respected among the Gawker staff, had been the acting executive editor. He had also been helping to lead a search for a permanent replacement for Mr. Craggs. Josh Tyrangiel, the former editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, who recently joined Vice, was also considered for a position at Gawker Media. (A successor has not yet been named for Mr. Read.)

Mr. Cook’s appointment follows a stated aim of Gawker’s founder, Nick Denton, to move the organization in a different direction. After the scandal, he vowed in a series of memos to make Gawker nicer and less tabloid in its sensibilities.

 In an interview by instant message on Tuesday, Mr. Denton described Mr. Cook as “one of the web’s great investigative reporters” and “an excellent manager, with natural authority over some of the most rambunctious journalists in the media business.”

Mr. Cook, 42, is a former reporter for The Chicago Tribune and has also worked at Yahoo News and The Intercept.

 He is responsible, Mr. Denton said, for some of Gawker’s most memorable articles, including “the exposure of Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor and Hillary Clinton’s secret email correspondence.”

“When we asked him to serve as acting executive editor, we did have a hunch that we’d ask him to take the job permanently,” Mr. Denton said. But the search “has opened our eyes to the range of incredible editorial talent in New York. There are several people we would love to work with.”

In an interview, Mr. Cook said that since he joined the company in 2009 its influence had increased, and that it would be incumbent upon him to “to operate this place in a way that is cognizant of the power it has, and uses it judiciously.”

For Gawker.com, he said, the aim of making it nicer can most likely be achieved through “calibration of voice and tone and just balance.”

He will be hiring across the organization, which also includes the sports site Deadspin and the technology site Gizmodo, he said.

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