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“Nostalgia Is a Hell of a Drug”: Will Gawker’s Swashbuckling Style Survive the Upcoming Relaunch?

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Like a bat-signal to the media industry, Gawker’s long-dormant Twitter feed recently began one morning with a request: tips@gawker.com. “It’s Alive,” Gawker and Deadspin alum Timothy Burke reacted In the account’s first tweet since 2016, wrestler and reality star of the year Hulk HoganBacked by Tech Billionaire Peter Thiel, successfully sued Gossip site to publish your sex tapes into oblivion. Gawker is now set to return in early fall, a source with knowledge of the plans said. Leah Finnegan, a former features editor at the site and one of its most caustic writers, who followed on Twitter ask one Her own: “Only good things please.”

Gawker’s revival under Finnegan is being closely watched within the New York media bubble, which its earlier iterations both accomplished and gleefully punctured. “Nostalgia is one hell of a drug,” said former Gawker editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder. Snyder, one of the 14 editors in chief of the original website, said, “When Gawker alumni talk about how great Gawker was, I think they’re often talking about how great their Gawker was. ” “I don’t have real clarity in my mind about what it will mean to bring Gawker back in 2021,” and “whoever is going to do that has to define a lot.” That being said, Snyder notes that Finnegan has long been “one of the keeper of the Gawker voice.”

“The election of Leah Finnegan was shocking to me in the best possible way.” foster room, another former Gawker editor and writer told me, describing him as a “resurrected, creative, brilliant editor” with a “real pugilistic streak,” someone who was able to take on that kind of fuzzy stratosphere of power. Capable of what Gawker did in its heyday. “You also have to be excited about aspiring to follow that,” Kamar said. “Leah is the one person who can lead Gawker into his next era,” said the Discourse blog publisher Alexander Chano, a former Gawker writer who would go on to become editor-in-chief of Splinter, seen as Gawker’s successor before closing in 2019. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust Leah.”

Finnegan, who previously served as executive editor of The Outline, new York Times And HuffPost declined to disclose any plans for Gawker 3.0—”What if Business Insider steals them?” She quipped in an email—and suggested that the growing staff is currently “writing only short drafts on Post-It notes” in preparation for launch. Meanwhile, his team has started coming in the headlines. Staff – all women so far included Kelly Konaboy, a former Gawker writer and most recently a writer-at-large New York magazine’s The Cut, who joins as senior staff writer; jenny zhang, as a staff writer, staff writer at Eater; tarple hito, as a Power Trip reporter, staff writer at the Daily Beast; and brandy jensen, who served as features editor with Finnegan at The Outline. Two other former Gawker writers have signed on: Dayana Evans, the current editor of Eater Philly, will be a fashion columnist, and allie Jones, who writes a celebrity gossip column for The Cut, is joining as a contributing writer. All will be, a culture critic and author, and Claire Carusillo, formerly a beauty columnist at Man Repeller, is also joining as contributing writers.

Last week, Tammy Teklemariam, the food and wine writer who shut down the explosion Enjoy your food by last summer resurfacing resignation photo editor in chief Adam Rapoport in racially insensitive attire, announced There are plans to join as a “food critic (or something)”. (Enjoy your food, like Vanity Fair, owned by Condé Nast.) Teklemariam, whose hoarse tone is in many ways reminiscent of Gawker’s height, has become a media-industry whistleblower; In announcing her hiring, she praised Finnegan, “who promised to teach me how to be mean in over 240 characters.”

Even with a stellar new stable of writers, there are doubts among some of Gawker’s alumni about who funded it. “The Brian Goldberg It’s all a $64,000 question,” as said Kamer. Goldberg, founder of Bustle Digital Group—and some himself Gawker Villain Back in the day – already inspected Tangled Gawker Relaunched (aka Gawker 2.0) around 2018 Buying a Site at the Bankruptcy Auction. “What are the limits? Have the boundaries been established? And what is the mandate?” Kamar said. The new Gawker, Snyder said, “will have to co-exist with tried-and-true models to produce a BDG publication,” such as Elite Daily and Bustle. When I asked Finnegan how she expected to navigate the potentially dire editorial hurdles under BDG, once compared to free rein Gawker, she replied: “Sadly, I don’t have the written approval of Brian Goldberg. Without answering this question is not allowed and unreachable. Moment on some rich-man island.” Still, Finnegan has direct experience with how BDG operates, noting that the acquired media company Bought Outline in 2019, only shut it down next year. Joshua Topolsky, founder of Outline, has since become part of BDG’s top executives, overseeing content and strategy for its Culture and Innovation group; He will likely join the re-launched Gawker. (A BDG spokesperson did not make Goldberg available for interview.)

It remains to be seen whether Bustle-owned Gawker will similarly annoy those in power and, at times, swing the sledgehammer back on its own. under which Nick Denton, Gawker worked in a spirit of radical transparency—that’s why you’d have Finnegan, for example, live-tweeting What was he saying during a controversial staff meeting? At its best, Gawker was light years ahead of most media in taking aim. Harvey Weinstein, bill cosby, and Jeffrey Epstein And New York provided rare insight into the media, articles read by both plutocrats in its lowest ranks and headlines. According to Chan, “Gawker was always one of the places ready to ‘go there,’ “write open secrets.” “It was able to set the agenda and predict the agenda.”

But Gawker could also do something that happened more frequently in his later years, by which time the blog itself had become an established character as a rebel. “Punching down was often not a good look for Gawker,” Kamer said. It felt like, Snyder recalls, “when there was blood on the floor of the Condé Nast tower,” referring to a controversial post about an executive’s personal life— expulsion Due to which the then editor-in-chief of the site read max To to resign In protest, and other employees, Including Finnegan to take buyout. A few days after the eruption, Denton announced His new vision for Gawker was reportedly telling people who wanted him to be “20% good”. (I was interviewed to read for this piece, but she told me she suffered from “a serious brain injury that erased my memory of everything that happened between 2010 and 2016.”)

What role can Gawker still play in 2021? in an email, Choir Sicha, now one of its former chief editors leading newspapers On times, Told me he’s still trying to figure it out. “Gawker’s job (which usually failed) was to tell stories that people didn’t want to tell. But now we have too many people doing that. Don’t we? Or are we kidding ourselves?” Snyder notes that there’s no shortage of platforms willing to host this kind of content, either: “Anyone can set Twitter on fire with a Medium post if they have a juicy enough story.”

Chan says of media in 2021, “Right now, there is a conflicting sense of the landscape being crowded but homogeneous, an industry being either “huge titans of industry all doing the same thing” or “individuals”. -brand journalists” dominated. Places like Substack have a following to break into” – a forum Kamer thinks “will be nothing but a source of great content for Gawker,” a “rebel in the media in 2005.” full of people” who have since become wealthy targets. Snyder is of the opinion that the world needs something like Gawker, but isn’t sure it should be called Gawker, what he told The Guardian Before Goldberg’s first attempt at revival. “There are a lot of pros in using names,” he told me, adding that SEO value is likely to be among them. “You probably wouldn’t write a story about a site pre-launch like Gawker,” he noted. “But it comes with so much stuff.”

I publicized to various Gawker alumni, many of whom said they were watching with anticipation, but had little to say about the revival, as emily gold Put it in an email, “Glad someone has a media job right now, get that money.” when i asked tom scokaWhat he thinks about the site’s return, Slate’s politics editor and a longtime member of the Gawker universe, told me: “I’m in the middle of re-watching avengers: endgame after watching with my kids infinity war And it’s interesting to see what a happy ending could possibly work for after five years of trauma and loss followed by brutal arbitrary slaughter.

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