Who Is Moira Donegan? Woman Behind 'Shitty Media Men' List Comes Forward

A picture taken on January 14, 2015, in Paris, shows a pile of magazines. The "Shitty Media Men" list was created a spreadsheet that listed men in the media, where they worked and their alleged misconduct. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

A day after a magazine article threatened to out her identity, Moira Donegan came forward Wednesday night as the creator of the infamous "Shitty Media Men" list.

In a piece published by The Cut, Donegan, a writer for publications such as n+1, Bookforum and The New Yorker, revealed that she created the "anonymous, crowdsourced document" in October "a first attempt at solving what has seemed like an intractable problem: how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault.

The "Shitty Media Men" list, Donegan wrote, was meant to be a private "whisper network" for women to protect each other from "serial assaulters" in the media industry and "share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged."

The list was created a spreadsheet that listed men in the media, where they worked and their alleged misconduct. Women anonymously filled the spreadsheet with their stories, and many of them were shocking and violent.

"Women recounted being beaten, drugged, and raped," Donegan wrote. "Women recounted being followed into bathrooms or threatened with weapons. Many, many women recounted being groped at work, or shown a colleague's penis."

After being online for only a few hours, the list grew into something much bigger. BuzzFeed reporter Doree Shafrir wrote about the list, and it was eventually shared on Reddit.

The increased attention also created a cycle of questions and judgment regarding the list, not only about the women making accusations but the appropriateness of a list built on anonymous claims. Some called it "irresponsible," Donegan wrote, while others criticized it for sidestepping traditional avenues for reporting such behavior, like human resource and police departments.

In all, the list was active for 12 hours with more than 70 men working in the media industry named before Donegan deactivated it. She was never identified as the creator of the list, but in her piece for The Cut she said once the list was made public she lost friends. She also lost her job, but it's unclear if that was connected to creating the list. "The fear of being exposed, and of the harassment that will inevitably follow, has dominated my life since."

On Tuesday, word began spreading on social media that Harper's Magazine was planning to publish a story written by Katie Roiphe that outed Donegan as the list's creator. This caused a firestorm of criticism from women and men who feared for Donegan's safety if her identity was revealed. One of those critics, writer Nicole Cliffe, offered to pay freelancers working on pieces for Harper's if they pulled them in retaliation for their decision to run Roiphe's story.

Donegan wrote that Roiphe contacted her in December seeking "comment for a Harper's story she was writing on the 'feminist moment,'" but declined. She learned that Roiphe identified her as the list's creator only after she was contacted this week by a magazine fact-checker.

Harper's confirmed it was running a piece about the list written by Roiphe, but on Wednesday said it would not identify the list's creator. Still, the threat of the story—and the reaction it generated—spurred Donegan to come forward, she said.

"The outrage made it seem inevitable that my identity would be exposed even before the Roiphe piece ran," she wrote. "All of this was terrifying. I still don't know what kind of future awaits me now that I've stopped hiding."

As The Cut article was published, Donegan's Twitter account seemed to be taken offline. But it quickly returned, with a link to her essay at the top of her timeline. And it generated hundreds of messages of praise and admiration.

"I cannot praise you, your writing, your thoughtfulness, or your courage enough," Charles Bryan wrote. "You've taken ownership of this moment and that is beyond admirable."

"I'm turning 60 this month. I wish there had been a spreadsheet when I was 30 starting out in my industry," DC native said. "Still haunts me. It's everywhere and has been for decades. You are a brave women [sic]."