Gawker Completes Metamorphosis from Butterfly to Caterpillar

It’s been a couple years since we frequented a Gawker Media blog. Back in the Golden Age, we were rabid followers of Gawker, Defamer, and Wonkette.

Or, more precisely: Jessica Coen, Mark Lisanti, and Ana Marie Cox.

They were witty companions throughout the day. They had distinctive voices.

We like distinctive voices. Might have something to do with radio, our first love. Seventies radio. Local radio, before stations got scooped up and homogenized by corporations.

But the voices left Gawker. They were replaced by other voices, some more companionable than others, and then, later, a lot more voices — a cacophony, really. Twelve posts a day, you can absorb. Beyond that, a blog becomes a newswire. If we want headlines, we’ll check Memeorandum.

So Gawker evolved away from our interest. And soon, it plans to evolve beyond blogging.

The Big Change has been in the works for months. You can preview it here. You can also read Overlord Nick Denton’s reasoning behind the change here. There will still be a list of Latest Posts, but it’s turning into headline-only sidebar filler. Your attention instead will be directed to the Main Story, which will swallow your monitor as long as the editors think it’s worth occupying the space.

Kind of old-school, when you think about it. Gawker’s reinventing Above-the-Fold.

Whether it works — whether it works for Gawker’s readership and revenue — remains to be seen. Doesn’t work for us, but Gawker hasn’t worked for us a long time, anyway.

Instead, what catches our attention is this passing comment in Denton’s background post:

One law of media competition applies as strongly to web properties as it did to their predecessors: scoops drive audience growth. Gawker Media experienced that rule, painfully, as Harvey Levin’s TMZ eclipsed our overly bloggy Hollywood site, Defamer. TMZ’s growth was built upon three gigantic stories: Mel Gibson’s meltdown; Michael Richards’ racist outburst; and Michael Jackson’s death.


Bear in mind that Denton once called Defamer’s Mark Lisanti the best writer on the Web — and we heartily agree. But it seems Denton wasn’t satisfied publishing the only worthy successor to Spy’s still-anonymous “Celia Brady” that we’ve seen. He wanted the largest advertiser-friendly audience he could muster, and envied TMZ’s celebrity gossip over Defamer’s industry gossip.

Fair enough. It’s his dime. And really, if we’re so critical of what he’s doing, why don’t we just run our own blog the way we see fit?

Oh. Right.


And the next sentence in Denton’s piece sums it up:

We learned our lesson: aggressive news-mongering trumps satirical blogging.

@SanFranLefty: Is this a case of the Gawker empire misreading the market, or just being dumb? Fuck TMZ, or at least the TV show. I want them all to DIAF.

Majesty of the Law TJ: Liberal lion of the 9th Circuit Judge Reinhardt denies the Prop H8ers’ request that he recuse himself because he’s married to the former E.D. of the ACLU of Southern California. I didn’t see the plaintiffs filing a motion to recuse the Mormon judge from Idaho even though his church was behind and funded the Prop.

@SanFranLefty: ‘Trumps’ I assume means creates more page views and increases pages views by creating another mindless trashy celebrity gossip product than something of substance?

I still miss Defamer. Sigh.


Obviously a judge should recuse himself from a civil rights case if he is married to someone affiliated with a group that promotes civil liberties. We do not want Jurists on the bench who exhibit a biase toward freedom.

Add a Comment
Please log in to post a comment