Perhaps this is penance for outing that Conde Nast exec a few months ago, but whatever the reason THIS is shocking. We’re not sure if covering politics will prove to be “20% nicer” than what they normally do, but we’re going to miss their potpourri of snark. That said, Alex Pareene is an ALWAYS entertaining political writer and we sure were sick of those 500 Days of Kristin posts showing up in their feed:
Gawker.com, a site that pioneered the knowing and snarky tone that has come to define web journalism, will switch from covering New York and the media world, as it has done since its founding in 2003, to focus on politics.
The change, which comes as part of a broad reorganization of the site’s parent company, Gawker Media, was announced in a memo to the staff on Tuesday. The site, wrote Gawker’s founder, Nick Denton, “will ride the circus of the 2016 campaign cycle, seizing the opportunity to reorient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire.”
Politics, writ large, “has provided the scene for some of Gawker’s most recognized editorial scoops,” he said, citing reporting on Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto smoking crack cocaine, the power of Fox News and Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
The shift comes after a controversy over the publication and subsequent retraction of an article this summer that led to the resignations of two top editors. The company will now focus on its seven core sites, which include the technology site Gizmodo and the sports site Deadspin, and close smaller offshoots like Defamer, a Hollywood site.
Seven people will lose their jobs in the revamping, although six jobs will be created, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Plans to license Gawker’s content management system, Kinja, will also be shelved.
The changes were prompted by a close examination of the company this year. In July, Gawker was criticized for running an article about a married male executive apparently seeking a liaison with a male escort.
Faced with widespread criticism, including threats to withdraw advertising, the site removed the article. Two of the company’s senior editors, Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Max Read, the editor of Gawker.com, resigned in protest.
They were succeeded by John Cook, who became the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Alex Pareene, who joined as editor of Gawker.com. After the resignations, Mr. Denton said publicly that the site would be “nicer” in the future and less tabloid in its sensibilities.
Gawker had been seen as the quintessential Manhattan media and gossip publication of the Internet age — a destination for ambitious, young writers who are eager to cover the industry and the powerful figures who populate it.
It has been no stranger to turmoil itself, with frequent changes among its top editorial leadership, scandals over subjects it has covered or materials it has published and disagreements among its staff that have often broken into public view. But the announcement Tuesday marks a more fundamental change of direction.
Gawker Media attracted more than 50 million unique users in the United States in September, according to comScore, and more than 100 million globally in October, according to Quantcast. Though Gawker.com is the company’s flagship site, its most popular are the technology-focused Gizmodo, the technology site, and Lifehacker, which provides productivity tips.
The shift in focus is an acknowledgment, Mr. Denton wrote, that the quality and engagement of an audience is more important than its sheer size. “In today’s crowded and confusing digital media world, you should focus on your strengths and have a clear message for your audience,” he wrote.