Sympathy For The Gawker

1217denton.jpgAs has been reported elsewhere, Gawker Media head Nick Denton has named himself as the new “temporary managing editor” of flagship blog Gawker in order “to oversee its evolution towards a more traditional news operation.” His first day on the job will be January 2nd and it won’t be his first time working on GM’s blogging side — Denton previously did stints over at Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag and travel site Gridskipper as well.

Ultimately, it’s not too surprising. Denton (rightfully) has a reputation as a canny businessperson and was among the first to turn blogging into a successful, highly profitable business model. In previous comments on Gawker and through occasional public statements, the Gawker Media head has been quite open about his desire to turn his flagship blog away from media gossip and towards general news — and it’s what he should be doing. Gawker’s current audience includes as many fashion designers and lawyers as it does Condé editorial assistants. It is less of a media blog and more of a general interest blog these days — Denton is simply turning with the tide and aiming away from media industry shores in hopes that GM’s recent social networking and user-generated content efforts can bring them mainstream market success. The fact is that Gawker Media has already made itself into an online traffic titan that can successfully compete with the New York Times and Washington Post on their own terms… But the question is what Gawker’s audience will think of the new Gawker.

As for Denton’s decision to name himself as Gawker’s new editor, FBNY contacted a number of bloggers and media commentators for their take on it:

  • Jake Dobkin, founder Gothamist.com and writer of pithy comments: “The hardest part about writing for Gawker seems to be pleasing Nick – so his decision makes perfect sense. Cutting out the middleman, so to speak.”
  • Jon Friedman, MarketWatch media expert extrodinaire: “Now that Nick has named himself to this post at Gawker, he has ensured that there will be at least one happy staffer there.”
  • Jessica Coen, ex-Gawker ed. and current New York editor: “I think it’s great. I suspect a lot of Gawker editors have been at times utterly mystified by Nick’s demands, so it’ll be nice to have him just show everyone what the hell it is that he wants. Also, he’ll be occupied enough to leave the other sites alone for awhile, which has got to be a major relief for those editors.”
  • Andrew Krucoff, Young Manhattanite editor: “Classic Denton.”

    Gawker’s move towards repositioning themselves as a more traditional website can be seen in some recent decisions on their site. The news of Denton’s assumption of the ME spot wasn’t even mentioned directly — instead, a link was offered to a Valleywag post. Neither was there any mention on the site of Vanessa GrigoriadisGawker article for New York. You know, journalistic neutrality or something.

    Ex-editor and current Gridskipper helmsman (and great guy) Chris Mohney recently wrote an excellent essay on his personal blog that’s well worth reading in terms of Gawker Kremlinology. But on to other topics…