Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Nick Denton: "A few cases recently where we've thought *way* too much before publishing."

HASH THOSE TAGS BOYSToday is that awesome panel at this magazine media thingy, at which Awl pals Nick Denton and Simon Dumenco will tell you what to do with your magazine. It is a great time to do this for two reasons: one of which is that, overnight, Gawker just digested and extruded Twitter in some weird hashtaggy way. And also, this Gawker memo from the other day! Subject line: "We're not running a newspaper."

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Nick Denton
Date: Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 6:33 PM
Subject: We're not running a newspaper

A few cases recently where we've thought *way* too much before publishing. Even when we've had exclusive information or even documentary evidence.

There's always a good argument for waiting. Let's check to see whether the associated claim is true; oh, the source might be exposed.

But we should publish anyway, making clear what we know to be true and what remains up in the air. Or even just publish a headline or quicklink and fill the story in later. We can always update. We can always write a second post when we've established more of the facts.

We've brought in some of the better traditions of newspapers. We're breaking more stories than we ever have. That's awesome.

But there's no way we're going to slow our publishing schedule to that of a ponderous newspaper-style organization — where everything has to go through layers of edit and approval and checking and legal. If we did that, we'd be neither as authoritative as a newspaper nor as nimble as the smaller blogs that *do* indeed publish as soon as they get something.

At some media organizations you might get rapped for running a premature story. At Gawker Media, you'll lose way more points for being scooped on a story you had in your hands.


73 Comments / Post A Comment

Abe Sauer (#148)

Hey, I've been pointing this out to EVERYONE I cauld since it was published in July

"Ultimately, Denton says, he’d like emulate the TMZ model. “I’d love to have their reputationâ€"as the place you go if you want to make a buck.'"

Obama Joins Porn Stars in Rose Garden Fuck Fest

Details later.

Obama Joins Porn Stars in Rose Garden Fuck Fest(UPDATE)

Turns out that it was just a (sexxxy) cabinet debrief.

atipofthehat (#797)

Friday night?

Tuna Surprise (#573)

It's hard to criticize Denton when you guys published an expose on so-called "Skank Boots" before you verified whether over-the-knee boots are, in fact, slutty in any way.

Cat has far more noble and high-end aspirations for hisher employees. Cat always encourages you to wait until you are able to authenticate Bear videos.

I'm surprised there is no "Things I don't miss" tag here.

flossy (#1,402)

Waking up this morning to the hot mess over there was like realizing that your boyfriend, who was a pretty cool dude when you met even if he did have a few irritating qualities, has since let his worst traits slowly fester and calcify into his entire cringe-inducing personality. The vomitous twitter-esque redesign is roughly analogous to the moment you finally wake up in bed to the sound and smell of his beery sleep-farts while you cling to 10% of the covers and you say "You know what? Fuck this." That's why I cheat now….

Well done, you.

HiredGoons (#603)


DTMFA. I've taken to saying "I don't even READ Gawker anymore" in the same sanctimonious tones that some people say "I don't even OWN a television." The commentariat is increasingly shouty and stupid, and the gossip is all (TMZ-like) about celebrities I don't give a fuck about. So whatever, I don't need it in my RSS feed. And that means I WIN, just like how those people who think television is too stupid for them win against television.

Hez (#147)

Cue Hez's beloved "People still read Gawker?" line.

NEVER GETS OLD, PEOPLE. (Nothing personal, Ryan and Foster – you know we're cool.)

sigerson (#179)

My employer (a large corporate entity) blocks all social networking sites, web-based email and certain other content. I used to read Gawker but in the last few months it got banned by the computer filters. COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT.

Yes, the demographic shift is nearly complete. There are more shouty stupids than funny smarts in the world, so apparently Nick decided to go with the more lucrative group. Sad!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Interesting. How ironic that the moves made are probably to increase ad revenue but may be responsible through such at-work bans from robbing the site of pageviews.

JaguarPaw (#312)

The same thing happened at my sad corporate entity! The filter is adding sites weekly – becoming self aware! For instance, the Arts section of the NyTimes is now blocked due to "Arts/Culture/Heritage".

Baboleen (#1,430)

Bottom dwellers.

Aw, it's so cute that Nick is just now catching up to what Facebook just caught up to, like, last year.

All of which is supremely fucking annoying.

ljnd (#86)

I'll just tweet that. Hold on a sec.

sox (#652)

And that throughout the past year they've relentlessly bashed FB for being "obsessed" with trying to make their site more like twitter, while also bashing twitter, and now they've adopted the whole scheme as their own???
I haven't seen this new thing…they kind of lost save Pareene when Richard L stopped doing those silly recaps and then that whole star/hierarchy thing. Oof. Too cool for me I suppose.

Maevemealone (#968)

They really lost me with the Richard L replace-a-gay schtick. You can't just hire a gay to write in Richard's style and pretend that doesn't make his absence even more glaring.

Can't The Awl lure him in over here for a column? I seem to remember he liked cats.

sox (#652)

oh man, i miss those recaps. i didn't watch any of the shows he wrote about, but found his prose so much more entertaining.

i will say though, ms. HK choi is stealing my little heart over here, and her posts are actually easier on my ever decreasing attention span. {but maybe, just maybe, a lil' Richard action on the awl every now and then…please?}

Vulpes (#946)

Pattycakes, Richard is doing the GG and The Hills/The City recaps over on, now. They're just as grand. But, yeah, he still totally needs to do some Awl stuff.

Hez (#147)

"but maybe, just maybe, a lil’ Richard action on the awl every now and then…please?"

"he still totally needs to do some Awl stuff."

STRONGLY DISAGREE. Not EVERYBODY needs to do EVERYTHING. Stop trying to force it, ferfucksakes. Some of us like our Awl the way it is, without "That Touch of Tinz!"

sox (#652)

well actually, now that my retarded ass has managed to properly navigate (thanks bunches Vulpes!), there is no need at all. as i said, Mary's posted are much better suited to my adhd anyways.

sorry for the interruption, please continue as usual.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Strongly agree with La Hez. If you have to have a lot of pop culture in the mix, it's a relief to have somebody as omniscient about it and as generally clever as Richard L. But that's saying if.

Hez (#147)

Strongly agree with La Hez. [...]it’s a relief to have somebody as omniscient about it and as generally clever as Richard L.

Omniscient? Yikes. Dude, maybe you read my comment backwards. I sit with Wookie for a reason.

HiredGoons (#603)

William Randolph Hearst thought of it first.

NicFit (#616)

Am I mistaken, or is the entire world now a Gawker blogger?

Abe Sauer (#148)

Weekend Editor, Gawker Media can now be on every editorial job seeker's resume!

fek (#93)

Hey HEY HEY!!! No.

BoHan (#29)

Ooooh. So it's like the PopSugar forums now. 2012 can't arrive soon enough.

Steve (#1,777)

This is going to go as well as that shit-storm a while back over a commenter talking about her butt too much.

(Man, I love it here.)

There is something a little bit sad about seeing Gawker chase another site's tail so blatantly. All those pound signs, yuck.

That said, so far this seems wayyy less clusterfucky than the old attempt to be a "news aggregator" via the RSS-feed import. (Which, wait, is still there!)

Maevemealone (#968)

Gawker is hanging on by a thread on my Chrome homepage. The Awl has worked it's way to top left. A few more clicks on Tastespotting and Gawker should be dropping off a cliff soon…

brent_cox (#40)

Running late? No time to brew a pot of coffee?

afarerkind (#379)

Eew, I just saw Gawker for the first time in a couple weeks. I'd like to say this was the obvious, expected outcome of so many bad management decisions, but it's actually surprising how far it's fallen. And sad. It's also sad.

sox (#652)

Also, is that first sentence in his memo actually a sentence? Am I just reading it wrong or what?

Needs a verb in there somewhere.

brent_cox (#40)

This would be a step further from the "implied subject" (i.e., "Went to the store for some rat poison"). The "implied subject/verb"?

sunnyciegos (#551)

I know there’s probably not a lot of Jezebel love around here, but damned if Anna et al don’t do a great job forging their own path in the trash heaps of Gawker Media. They actually still publish thoughtful commentary (in addition to the celebrity baby photos and tv recaps). Anna, my hat is off to you. It has to be a thankless job when your overlord clearly doesn’t value what you produce.

cherrispryte (#444)

Actually, I think this Gawker Media makeover hit Jezebel harder than some other sites. At the top of Jezebel now, there are three tabs: "Celebrity", "Sex", "Fashion", and clicking on each of these tabs takes you to posts on that topic.
This is slowly becoming untrue, but Jezebel used to cover so much more than that. They had some of the best election coverage, the occasional fantastic post on women's rights in the developing world, book reviews, and lots of other awesomeness. Overlord Denton, apparently, thought the ladies were getting uppity, and would like them to return to celebrity coverage and reality shows.
Also, there was a whole "blaze of glory" movement by a dozen or so of the more prolific commenters in the reader roundup post yesterday, and a shitload of people got banned. And then the editors deleted all comments on that post.

So there's that. And yes, I know the love for Jezebel is limited here – with good reason.

sunnyciegos (#551)

That's a shame. I visited Jezebel this morning, saw the redesign and assumed it was a glitch.

You know, prior to Sarah Palin and Twitter, I assumed that we as a culture were generally progressing. This is more evidence to the contrary.

Fifi (#1,639)

I went to check on it and wasn't able to access the comments for the Changes post either. On the front page it says 383 comments, but in the article it says 0 comments. Trouble in paradise?

bb (#295)

ah. I used to read Jez a fair amount for reasons you mention, but it oddly seems to have taken this formula: Post on celebrity, sex or fashion + Comments on how offensive celebrity, sex or fashion are. It recalls Faludi-ish in a way I can't quite articulate — I guess just commodification of feminist thought with a dose of young woman angst.

Multiphasic (#411)

Fortunately, none of Gawker's occasional users are dumb enough to get their text fields confused and submit a tip for "project runway recap". Not a one.

lululemming (#409)

In keeping with Gawker's new "shoot first, ask questions later" I plan on submitting "just the tip".

lululemming (#409)

" ^policy,

libmas (#231)

"hashtaggy" sounds like a Scottish dish I would not care to try.

sailor (#396)


Vulpes (#946)

At this point, I just feel sorry for everyone who still has to toil under the yoke of Attila the Blog-Hun over there, though for wildly different reasons: John Cook, Hamilton Nolan, and Foster Kamer because they seem to still be trying their little hearts out, Brian Moylen for being a low-rent Richard Lawson and failing miserably, and that Belonsky fella for just straight-up sucking.

I was wondering who would first mention Belonsky! The idea of this memo being addressed to him even in part is kinda chilling.

Vulpes (#946)

Do I win a prize?

sox (#652)

i feel really bad for brian moylan, and second maeve's comment above. it would suck to be hired with the soul purpose of meme-ing someone else. give the kid his own identity for cryin out loud. or, god forbid, hire a female to do some writing. do all female writers at gawker automatically have to write for jezebel?

Vulpes (#946)

Women at Gawker? Crazy talk! Seriously, though, I always thought the cries that Denton is a misogynist were paranoid, oversensitive nonsense, but more and more I wonder.

fek (#93)

"Gawker [TK]s so much [TK] and has sucked since [TK] left and [TK] REALLY fucking sucks. Denton's an evil [TK] and [TK]."

lululemming (#409)

I don't understand this and it scares me. I'm just going to duct-tape my itouch over my third eye and wait for the "bitching about the rising cost of penny candy" app to become available.

Vulpes (#946)

I myself have rolled my eyes at such talk in the past, but Gawker really has gotten pretty bad lately.

fek (#93)

We appreciate your feedback! Truly! But in my efforts to please everyone, the options get narrowed down to "Quit and have nothing to do with it" or "Tune everyone the fuck out and up the cock-joke quota." And contrary to popular belief, the pay's pretty decent. Also, people said the same thing about Bob Dylan's gospel phase. So there's that.

Vulpes (#946)

I just remembered who you are, fek, and let me say you are a highlight at Gawker currently, IMHO. Truly, not just to kiss ass.

bb (#295)

But in my efforts to please everyone, the options get narrowed down to “Quit and have nothing to do with it” or “Tune everyone the fuck out and up the cock-joke quota.”

you might be taking it a bit personally? no one thinks it's your fault that Denton has completely tossed any formerly appealing mission that Gawker might have had of being something better than TMZ, i.e. being about and for smart people. Sure, if I were you I would look for a different job, but those don't exist, so.

libmas (#231)

But isn't the whole complaint that the efforts are directed toward pleasing everyone? Also: but were they right about Dylan's Gospel phase?

fek (#93)

No, I think the complaints are "Gawker Sucks" and then everyone has some kind of different beef. And no, they were wrong about Dylan's gospel phase. I was pleasantly surprised when it came on in a bar the other night.

saythatscool (#101)

Fek, I am not sure who you are, but one thing that's true about Gawker is that when it opens up the floor after a period of building up walls, as it recently has done, the site gets a lot better. In the past two months, it felt like an echo chamber. It's boring when everyone is afraid to talk for fear of getting destarred or getting the boot.

I think things are going to pick up over there which they should be. I saw that Smails was already back on and playing this morning and that gives me a great deal of hope that you can lure those 10 or 11 commenters back who made the a lot more interesting. Peaople like Bringmemytofu, katastic, Mt Prion, PrincessKashmir, etc. were integral to the experience. They picked up and basically left and that site turned into momowith3wildkids talking about what a hoot it was to have her opinion heard.

I hope I am right. Anarchy is always better than hierarchy. Especially when it is on teh webz.

fek (#93)

I'm the weekend editor. The commenters are really important! I learned this the hard way, and had nothing but irritation for them previous to the gig. They've since not only come to my rescue many times, but made my job easier, far more interesting, and in many ways, much more substantial. It didn't come without an intense hazing period, though. The problem is that the best ones are a minority, they're fleeting. Trolls outnumber them 10:1. So: you kind of have to block out a lot of the other noise, but yes, I agree. You'd think the comments would make it an echo chamber; they actually help make the noise far less circular.

La Cieca (#1,110)

…where everything has to go through layers of edit and approval and checking and legal.

But not spellchecking.

Rod T (#33)

Sorry, I'm not going to learn this new language.

TrilbyLane (#1,318)

I halted my relationship with Gawker when they adopted an open-door policy for moron commenters who responded to any picture of a woman with a judgement on how old/hot/slutty she looked…

exquisitestereo (#1,848)

It's been interesting reading the Gawker wars from afar. I have a question (a serious and sincere one): are any of you aware of life outside of New York? (Bear videos don't count.)

Yes, The Awl generally has a token extramural post per day. (Nostalgie de la boue and all.) And let's not forget Abe Sauer, our Associate Editor for Real People Issues, who works that beat. Or beats us with his work. Whatever. Hope that clears things up for you and thanks for visiting!

lukaskaiser (#1,969)

Fek, and all other Gawker writers… Stop with the exclamation points. "Truly!" You have to trust that your readers will infer the inflections you're intending with your sentences without jamming it down their throats. The exclamation points thing doesn't enhance anything on any side of this argument… it doesn't get your posts up faster and it doesn't bring in more readers. Thankfully The Awl does not do this… at least not excessively.

lawyergay (#220)

ZOMFG! "That's awesome." That's awesome?

Nick Denton: A 15 year-old girl with $200 million.

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