J.K. Trotter revealed Wednesday that the future of website gawker.com was hanging very much in the balance of the Univision deal. He wrote about an all-hands meeting with Gawker Media president Heather Dietrick, who informed that the prospective new owners were unsure about the future of the site but that a decision would be made soon.
This afternoon, Trotter confirms that the end has arrived:
Nick Denton, the company’s outgoing CEO, informed current staffers of the site’s fate on Thursday afternoon, just hours before a bankruptcy court in Manhattan will decide whether to approve Univision’s bid for Gawker Media’s other assets. The near-term plans for Gawker.com’s coverage, as well as the site’s archives, have not yet been finalized.
In his Wednesday report, Trotter mentioned that Univision has indicated it is confident it can find jobs elsewhere for Gawker staffers. More to come.
Pictured: June 11 front page of the New York Post.
Forget who said this, maybe @mathewi? But I agree that no other site had as much influence on blogging style as Gawker DOT COM
— Carl Franzen (@carlfranzen) August 18, 2016
The people lionizing Gawker today seem to think that Gawker shares no responsibility for its plight. It’s all Thiel’s fault. But it’s not.
— Adam L. Penenberg (@Penenberg) August 18, 2016
— John P. Sundholm (@JohntheCraptist) August 18, 2016
Update (5:15 p.m.):
Here’s the Gawker Media staff memo subsequently sent by Denton following this afternoon’s bankruptcy hearing and the judge’s formal approval of the Univision deal:
I am relieved that, with the approval today of the agreement with Univision, that we have found the best possible harbor for Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel and Deadspin, and our talented writers and other staff. They will be joining The Onion, ClickHole and other beloved web properties in Fusion Media Group, the digital operation of Univision. Isaac Lee and the team at Fusion are fellow spirits, as committed to real journalism and an open future as they are to digital media expansion.
Sadly, neither I nor Gawker.com, the buccaneering flagship of the group I built with my colleagues, are coming along for this next stage. Desirable though the other properties are, we have not been able to find a single media company or investor willing also to take on Gawker.com. The campaign being mounted against its editorial ethos and former writers has made it too risky. I can understand the caution.
Even if the appeals court overturns this spring’s Florida jury verdict, Peter Thiel has already achieved many of his objectives.
I will move on to other projects, working to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information, but out of the news and gossip business.
Gawker.com may, like Spy Magazine in its day, have a second act. For the moment, however, it will be mothballed, until the smoke clears and a new owner can be found. The archives will remain, but Monday’s posts will be the last of this iteration.
I am proud of what we have achieved at Gawker Media Group, both in our work and our business, never more so than in these last few months.
Our bloggers – and the alumni now dispersed through the media from the New Yorker to the New York Times – have introduced a new style of journalism, sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes snarky, but always authentic. We connect with a skeptical and media-savvy generation by giving them the real story, the version that journalists used to keep to themselves.
Without outside capital, we bootstrapped a profitable digital media operation. With only the talent and energy of our writers and other staff, we have drawn one of the most influential audiences in digital media: our stories connect with 100 million people a month around the world. In 2016’s dance of media consolidation, the company has found a partner that understands our appeal and character; not all will have that luck.
As for Gawker.com, founded in 2003 and mothballed in 2016, it will live on in legend. As the short-lived killer android is told in Blade Runner: “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly.”
Update (August 19):
CNN media reporter Tom Kludt tweeted a breakdown of where Gawker staffers are being reassigned:
Ashley Feinberg; Hamilton Nolan; Alex Pareene; Jordan Sargent.
Marina Galperina; Hudson Hongo; Keenan (J.K.) Trotter.
Gabby Bluestone; Hannah Gold; Rich Juzwiak; Brendan O’Connor; Kelly Stout.