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media spats

Fired BuzzFeed Writer Did Not Find Termination Letter ‘Cute’

Mark Duffy, in happier times.

After Copyranter blogger Mark Duffy was fired from his job critiquing advertising for BuzzFeed, the company sent him some papers making the termination official, affixed to which were sticky notes asking him to sign and send them back. The notes, apparently one of a variety of novelty stickers BuzzFeed utilizes, came printed with the word "CUTE." That this move was not, in fact, cute, is the one point on which Duffy and BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith agree after a Gawker post by Duffy, Top 10 Best Ever WTF OMG Reasons BuzzFeed Fired Me, LOL! very publicly outlined his thoughts on his termination.

Duffy, who is not new to public media spats, claims Smith criticized or killed posts that were too critical of the site's advertisers, offering the example of a post on Axe Body Spray, "The Objectification Of Women By Axe Continues Unabated In 2013," which he says Smith deleted after Axe's parent company Unilever complained. He says Smith also criticized his take-down of Nike's "fat kid" commercial, among others.

Smith, in a response Gawker appended to Duffy's post, charged that Duffy had a habit of not backing up his criticism, and worse: "In particular, it's important to him to make charges — and in one case, imagine dialogue — without the reporting to support them. That's something he is perhaps doing with me here." About that "cute" note, Smith concedes coolly, "I'm sorry if the Cute sticker upset him." Doesn't sound like he's losing too much sleep over it.

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Photo: Buzzfeed