Gawker Media will shut down its gambling site Oddjack on Friday, December 2. Editor A.J. Daulerio was fired yesterday afternoon by Gakwer Media managing editor Lockhart Steele.
Daulerio was “contacted [by] Lockhart Steele in late April about interviewing for Gawker’s new gambling site on the recommendation of Will Leitch. My gambling knowledge was casual at best, but it was something that I was interested in pursuing so I went. I took a writing test and made crude jokes about poker players. Voila, blogger,” he told Fishbowl. However, Daulerio “knew after the initial two weeks that it was in trouble and I agonized over how to fix it, but to no avail.
“I was told about a month ago that November was the month that would ultimately determine my fate. As much as I tried to spike traffic with random posts–most of which had a tenuous gambling angle at best–it was painfully obvious that flukey traffic surges I’d get every now and again were not going to make this blog successful. The site had a very small readership that was pretty much maxed-out for whatever reason. Then yesterday Lockhart asked if we could meet to discuss this. I told him it wasn’t necessary to meet face-to-face because I had a feeling this would be the end. He IM-ed me the dire circumstances about 5 p.m. yesterday and that was that. That is how things are done in blog world, apparently. It’s very comforting.”
Yanking Oddjack is the first such setback for Gawker Media, which has launched 13 other blogs since its inception in 2002.
In response to several questions by mediabistro, Gawker Media founder Nick Denton posted a comment on his own site this afternoon:
Blog titles are like new TV shows. Some make it; some don’t. Oddjack, Gawker Media’s gambling site, was one of the ones that didn’t. And it’s best to cancel the show sooner rather than later.
A.J. Daulerio, the editor, is a trooper, and an amusing writer, but the audience was never there. Gawker traffic stats are public, so that’s been pretty obvious to anyone who checks the numbers. Gamblers want to gamble; it seems they don’t particularly want to read about gambling, however.
So we’re closing down Oddjack by the end of the month. We’d rather concentrate our energies on sites such as Deadspin, which have buzz and a growing audience, and new launches, which have equal potential. The moral of the story: it’s easy to launch sites; much harder to make them popular.
According to Gawker traffic statistics, also posted on Denton’s own site, Oddjack had 420,000 pageviews and about 180,000 visitors during its peak traffic month of September.
Disclosure: A.J. Daulerio is a longtime Friend of Fishbowl, as well as current co-managing editor (with Will Leitch) of the Black Table and current roomate of mediabistro.com acting editor Aileen Gallagher, who reported and wrote this.