Culture

People Are Fighting To Stop The Author Of An Infamous “Shitty Media Men” List From Being Outed

There are concerns that naming the whistleblower may threaten her life.

Late last year, a secret Google spreadsheet listing men in the media industry who had been accused of predatory behaviour went viral. The document, which was authored anonymously, contained allegations against hundreds of men, and was intended as a resource to help women in the industry stay safe.

No one currently knows who started the Shitty Media Men list. But now, a prestigious magazine appears to be preparing to publish a story naming the whistleblower behind it.

Multiple writers and editors have taken to social media today to warn that they’ve heard from several sources that Harper’s magazine will name the whistleblower in its March issue. They’re urging the publication to reconsider, saying that naming the woman (or women) behind the list would expose them to potential doxxing, death threats and retribution from alt-right trolls and potentially colleagues or bosses.

Dayna Tortorici, the editor of n+1, was the first to call attention to the planned article, and encouraged people on social media to express their opposition to the whistleblower being named in the hope that the publisher would become aware of the backlash.

Writer Nicole Cliffe later named Harper’s as the publication involved, and encouraged writers with pieces in the next issue to refuse to let them be published, saying she would reimburse them for the fees they lost in the process.

Since then, a number of writers have pulled their stories from Harper’s, and hundreds of people including Roxane Gay have added their voices to the campaign to have the name of the whistleblower removed from publication.

Game developer Brianna Wu, who was famously doxxed during Gamergate, also called on Harper’s to back down, citing her experience with death threats and stalking as an example of what the whistleblowers faced if named.

“If they do this, I want to tell you everything that will happen to her. I’m certain because it all happened to me,” Wu wrote on Twitter.

“Worst of all, this will NEVER END for her. Gamergate was almost four years ago, and I’m still dealing with it. It is journalistically indefensible to put her in danger. There is no public interest.”

People campaigning against the whistleblower being named have noted that it’s possible to criticise the list and its vague allegations without naming and endangering the list’s creator.

Harper’s have not publicly confirmed that they intend to publish the name of the whistleblowers. We’ll update this piece if they have any further response to the campaign.