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Gawker to Become Politics Site in Broad Restructuring

Shuts down Defamer, Morning After and Valleywag

Nick Denton's flagship website will undergo a content shift, and layoffs. Getty Images

Following a 2015 filled with upheaval, Gawker will look starkly different as it heads into 2016.

Gawker.com, which has focused primarily on the media world, will shift to covering politics, specifically the 2016 presidential campaign, under the direction of the website's new editor in chief Alex Pareene.

"Pareene's Gawker will focus intensely on politics, broadly considered, and the 2016 campaign," said Gawker Media executive editor John Cook in a memo. "Never before has a political season promised to be so ripe for the kind of punishing satire and absurdist wit." Gawker tried political coverage before, with the launch of Wonkette with founding editor Ana Marie Cox in 2004. Pareene previously wrote for that site before it was sold in 2008.

The shift in focus for the flagship site comes amid a broader reorganization of Gawker Media, which includes the shuttering of Hollywood blog Defamer, TV site Morning After, and Valleywag, which covered Silicon Valley and was shuttered once before, in 2008, only to be brought back in 2013. Gawker is also folding weather site The Vane; two Jezebel sub-sites: Millihelen and Kitchenette; Lifehacker sites Workshop and AfterHours; Jalopnik's Flight Club; and two Gizmodo sites: Indefinitely Wild and Throb.

As many as 10 staffers, including Jay Hathaway, Jason Parham, Kelly Conaboy and Taylor Berman, are being laid off.

The political shift comes after a summer in which Gawker was widely condemned for publishing, then unpublishing, a post that called out a married male entertainment executive for allegedly seeking a liaison with a male escort. That led to the resignations of top editors Tommy Craggs and Max Read.

Following the controversy, Gawker's founder and CEO Nick Denton said he wanted Gawker to become "20 percent nicer" as the media company tries to better position itself to attract advertisers.

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