‘Complex feelings’: How the media is paying its respects to Gawker

Today, there is a Gawker-shaped hole in our hearts. Less than 48 hours after Univision won Gawker Media in a court-supervised auction with a bid of $135 million, reports surfaced that its flagship site, Gawker.com, would be shut down. While Univision will retain the site’s staff for now, the site will stop publishing new content at the end of this week.

Within hours, founder Nick Denton’s farewell memo had circulated, Twitter teemed with reactions, and Slack channels across Manhattan and Brooklyn flickered with thoughts about what happened to one of the digital media brands that defined the beginning of the 21st century.

Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts on Gawker.com’s passing. The written entries were provided to us directly, and in some cases were lightly edited; the tweeted entries were, well, tweeted. Leave your own in the comments.

Joshua Topolsky, founder, The Outline
Gawker’s shutdown is a massive loss for true, independent journalism, and should be a warning signal to the rest of our industry. Its demise at the hands of a petty billionaire is not only an injustice to Nick Denton and his team, but an affront to everyone who supports a free press in this country.

Michael Wolff, columnist, USA Today
Gawker clearly has outlived its time and novelty. Sudden death is probably a kind, as well as deserving, way for it to go.

Henry Blodget, founder, Business Insider
It’s sad news for a hard-working, talented team and millions of readers. Gawker was a pioneer and fixture in the industry As Nick said today, at its best, Gawker was a passionate, fearless, and entertaining light that burned very, very bright.

Keith J. Kelly, columnist, New York Post
They incorporated a lot of what the Post was famous for — gossip, Page Six snarkiness and heavy media coverage. And took early advantage of the internet to be fast and nimble. That was clever. And when it was a handful of people in a loft making very little money they were basically bullet proof. They could be right, and they had stories I wish I had broken first. But they could also be reckless and wrong. But once they became a profitable venture and more of their stories crossed the line, they had to play to different standards. They never made that transition. In the end these things are not sprints — they are marathons. Parts of their race was good I grudgingly admit. But they did not finish the marathon.

Jim Romenesko, founder, JimRomenesko.com
I was in a coffee house this afternoon, scrolling through Twitter, when I started seeing tweets about Gawker.com folding. It was a sad, “Holy shit! I-can’t-believe-it” moment — one that ruined my afternoon. I really liked Gawker — hell, I even bought and read the entire ‘Gawker: An Oral History’ Kindle Single — and I’ll miss it.

Anna Holmes, founder, Jezebel
I’m sad and angry about the closure of Gawker.com. Though I never worked at the site, I FELT like I did: So much of the mid-to-late aughts media was informed by the work published on that site, and without it, I would have never been given the opportunity to create a sister site in Jezebel, which was one of the biggest and most rewarding challenges of my career. A lot of important stories — and storytellers — working in media today owe a debt to the tone, style, provocations and obsessions of the site and the people who built that site and nurtured it. Anyone paying attention knows that, and anyone who doesn’t know that, or disputes that, wasn’t paying attention.

Also: Fuck Peter Thiel.

Glenn Greenwald, founder, The Intercept

Clara Jeffery, editor in chief, Mother Jones

Richard Lawson, columnist, Vanity Fair
Gawker is — was? — a complex institution, never perfectly good nor perfectly bad. Fittingly, then, I have complex feelings about my time there. But I am nonetheless sad and startled to see it go like this. I hope the many smart and talented people who work there will find themselves somewhere good, at Univision or elsewhere.

Elizabeth Spiers, Gawker co-founder


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