Type of site
|Headquarters||New York City|
|Owner||Gawker Media (original iteration)|
Bustle Digital Group (2021 iteration)
|Launched||2002 (original) |
July 28, 2021 (re-launch)
Gawker is an American blog founded by Nick Denton and Elizabeth Spiers and based in New York City focusing on celebrities and the media industry.According to SimilarWeb, the site had over 23 million visits per month as of 2015. Founded in 2003, Gawker was the flagship blog for Denton's Gawker Media. Gawker Media also managed other blogs such as Jezebel , io9 , Deadspin and Kotaku .
Gawker came under scrutiny for posting videos, communications and other content that violated copyrights or the privacy of its owners, or was illegally obtained. Gawker's publication of a sex tape featuring Hulk Hogan led Hogan to sue the company for invasion of privacy. Hogan received financial support from billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who had been outed by Gawker against his wishes. On June 10, 2016, Gawker filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay Hogan $140 million in damages. On August 18, 2016, Gawker Media announced that its namesake blog would be ceasing operations the following week. Its other websites were unaffected, and continued to be run by Univision. Founder Nick Denton created the site's final post on August 22, 2016.
On July 12, 2018, Bryan Goldberg, owner of Bustle and Elite Daily , purchased Gawker.com in a bankruptcy auction for less than $1.5 million.Gawker relaunched under the Bustle Digital Group on July 28, 2021, with Leah Finnegan as editor.
Gawker was founded by journalist Nick Denton in 2002, after he left the Financial Times .It was originally edited by Elizabeth Spiers. Gawker's official launch was in December 2002. When Spiers left Gawker, she was replaced by Choire Sicha, a former art dealer. Sicha was employed in this position until August 2004, at which point he was replaced by Jessica Coen, and she became editorial director of Gawker Media. Sicha left for the New York Observer six months after his promotion.
Later, in 2005, the editor position was split between two co-editors, and Coen was joined by guest editors from a variety of New York City-based blogs; Matt Haber was engaged as co-editor for several months, and Jesse Oxfeld joined for longer. In July 2006, Oxfeld's contract was not renewed, and Alex Balk was installed. Chris Mohney, formerly of Gridskipper, Gawker Media's travel blog, was hired for the newly created position of managing editor.
On September 28, 2006, Coen announced in a post on Gawker that she would be leaving the site to become deputy online editor at Vanity Fair. Balk shared responsibility for the Gawker site with co-editor Emily Gould. Associate editor Maggie Shnayerson also began writing for the site; she replaced Doree Shafrir, who left in September 2007 for the New York Observer .
In February 2007, Sicha returned from his position at the New York Observer, and replaced Mohney as the managing editor. On September 21, 2007, Gawker announced Balk's departure to edit Radar Magazine's website; he was replaced by Alex Pareene of Wonkette .
The literary journal n+1 published a long piece on the history and future of Gawker, concluding that, "You could say that as Gawker Media grew, from Gawker's success, Gawker outlived the conditions for its existence".
In 2008, weekend editor Ian Spiegelman quit Gawker because Denton fired his friend Sheila McClear without cause. He made that clear in several comments on the site at the time, also denouncing what he said was its practice of hiring full-time employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying taxes and employment benefits.
On October 3, 2008, Gawker announced that 19 staff members were being laid off in response to expected economic hardships in the coming months. Most came from sites with low ad revenue.
On November 12, 2008, the company announced selling the popular blog site Consumerist and the folding of Valleywag, with managing editor Owen Thomas being demoted to a columnist on Gawker, and the rest of the staff being laid off. Some members and staff writers complained that owner Nick Denton was looking to sell out all of the Gawker sites while they were still profitable.
In December 2009, Denton was nominated for "Media Entrepreneur of the Decade" by Adweek, and Gawker was named "Blog of the Decade" by the advertising trade. Brian Morrissey of Adweek said "Gawker remains the epitome of blogging: provocative, brash, and wildly entertaining".
In February 2010, Denton announced that Gawker was acquiring the "people directory" site CityFile.com, and was hiring that site's editor and publisher, Remy Stern, as the new editor-in-chief of Gawker. Gabriel Snyder, who had been editor-in-chief for the previous 18 months and had greatly increased the site's readership, released a memo saying he was being let go from the job.
In December 2011, A. J. Daulerio, former editor-in-chief of Gawker Media sports site Deadspin, replaced Remy Stern as editor-in-chief at Gawker. The company replaced several other editors, contributing editors, and authors; others left. Richard Lawson went to the Atlantic Wire, a blog of the magazine, The Atlantic Monthly.
In 2012, the website changed its focus away from editorial content and toward what its new editor-in-chief A. J. Daulerio called "traffic whoring" and "SEO bomb throws".In January 2013 Daulerio reportedly asked for more responsibility over other Gawker Media properties, but after a short time was pushed out by publisher Denton. Daulerio was replaced as editor-in-chief by longtime Gawker writer John Cook.
In March 2014, Max Read became the Gawker's editor-in-chief.In April 2014, using internet slang was banned per new writing style guidelines.
In June 2015, Gawker editorial staff voted to unionize.Employees joined the Writers Guild of America. Approximately three-fourths of employees eligible to vote voted in favor of the decision. Gawker staff announced the vote on May 28, 2015.
Following the decision to delete a controversial story in July 2015, Read and Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Craggs resigned in protest. Leah Beckmann, the site's then deputy editor, took over as interim editor in chief. She was replaced in October 2015 by Alex Pareene.
On August 18, 2016, Gawker announced that it would be shutting down following the company's acquisition by Univision Communications.Its other six websites were unaffected and continue to operate under Univision.
Gawker's article archive remains online following its shutdown, and its employees were transferred to the other six websites or elsewhere in Univision.
On July 12, 2018, Bryan Goldberg, owner of Bustle and Elite Daily, purchased Gawker.com in a bankruptcy auction for less than $1.5 million.
On January 16, 2019, it was announced Carson Griffith, Ben Barna, Maya Kosoff and Anna Breslaw were joining the staff of the new Gawker.However, on January 23, 2019, Kosoff and Breslaw announced they were quitting the site over offensive workplace comments made by Griffith. "We're disappointed it ended this way, but we can't continue to work under someone who is antithetical to our sensibility and journalistic ethics, or for an employer [CEO Bryan Goldberg] who refuses to listen to the women who work for him when it's inconvenient," Kosoff and Breslaw said in a statement.
In March 2019, Dan Peres was announced as the site's editor-in-chief.However, in August 2019, Peres, Griffith and the rest of the staff tasked with relaunching the site were laid off. "We are postponing the Gawker relaunch," a BDG spokesperson said. "For now, we are focusing company resources and efforts on our most recent acquisitions, Mic, The Outline, Nylon and Inverse."
On February 27, 2020, it was announced Carson Griffith is suing The Daily Beast , the site's editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman, and writer Maxwell Tani, over a "defamatory and untruthful" article that contains allegations of offensive workplace comments from former Gawker writers Maya Kosoff and Anna Breslaw.“[Maxwell] Tani never approached Ms. Griffith for comment about any of these statements prior to publication,” the lawsuit, which was filed in New York County Supreme Court on January 23, 2020, reads. “It is clear this article, which has destroyed Ms. Griffith's life, was never fact-checked or thoroughly reported by Mr. Tani or his editor Mr. Shachtman and no one is being held accountable for it." On March 24, 2021, a New York judge denied a motion by The Daily Beast, Noah Shachtman and Maxwell Tani to dismiss Carson Griffith's defamation lawsuit. "This Court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pled a cause of action for defamation," Justice Phillip Hom wrote in the ruling. "In accordance with the foregoing, the motion is denied in all respects. Defendants shall serve and file their answer within 30 days from today."
In April 2021, it was reported that Gawker would relaunch with former Gawker writer Leah Finnegan tapped as editor-in-chief.Finnegan has said, of the tone of the relaunched site, that "[...] current laws of civility mean that no, it can’t be exactly what it once was." The site relaunched on July 28, 2021.
|Editor-In-Chief||Editor From||Editor To|
Gawker usually published more than 20 posts daily during the week, sometimes reaching 30 posts a day, with limited publishing on the weekends. The site also published content from its sister sites. Gawker's content consisted of celebrity and media industry gossip, critiques of mainstream news outlets, and New York-centric stories. The stories generally came from anonymous tips from media employees, found mistakes and faux pas in news stories caught by readers and other blogs, and original reporting.
On July 3, 2006, when publisher Nick Denton replaced Jesse Oxfeld with Alex Balk, Oxfeld claimed it was an attempt to make the blog more mainstream and less media-focused, ending a tradition of heavy media coverage at Gawker.
Denton announced in a staff memo in November 2015 that the site was switching from covering New York and the media world to focus primarily on politics.
On October 4, 2012, Daulerio posted a short clip of Hulk Hogan and Heather Clem, the estranged wife of radio personality Todd Alan Clem, having sex.Hogan sent Gawker a cease-and-desist order to take the video down, but Denton refused. Denton cited the First Amendment and argued that the accompanying commentary had news value. Judge Pamela Campbell issued an injunction ordering Gawker to take down the clip. In April 2013, Gawker wrote, "A judge told us to take down our Hulk Hogan sex tape post. We won't." It also stated that "we are refusing to comply" with the order of the circuit court judge.
Gawker's actions have been criticized as hypocritical since they heavily criticized other media outlets and websites for publishing hacked nude pictures of celebrities.
Hogan filed a lawsuit against Gawker and Denton for violating his privacy, asking for $100 million in damages; the trial was slated for July 2015.The cost of the lawsuit was partly funded by Peter Thiel, whom Gawker had previously outed in 2007. In January 2016, Gawker Media received its first outside investment by selling a minority stake to Columbus Nova Technology Partners. Denton stated that the deal was reached in part to bolster its financial position in response to the Hogan case.
In March 2016, Hulk Hogan was awarded $140 million in damages by a Florida jury in an invasion of privacy case over Gawker's publication of a sex tape: on March 18, Hogan was awarded $55 million for economic harm and $60 million for emotional distress;on March 21, 2016, the jury awarded Hogan a further $25 million in punitive damages. On November 2, Gawker reached a $31 million settlement with Hogan.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2017)
In 2007, Gawker published an article by Owen Thomas allegedly outing Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel as gay, although Thomas contends the article did not constitute outing since Thiel's sexuality had been "known to a wide circle" in the Bay Area. This together with a series of articles about his friends and others that he said "ruined people's lives for no reason" motivated Thiel to fund lawsuits against Gawker by people complaining that their privacy had been invaded, including Hulk Hogan.
On July 16, 2015, Gawker reporter Jordan Sargent posted a story about a gay porn star's alleged text correspondence with a married executive from a competing media company, Condé Nast. The article claimed Condé Nast CFO David Geithner had planned to go to Chicago to meet a male escort, and pay him $2,500 for sex. The article also claimed that after the escort requested Geithner settle the escort's housing dispute, he cancelled the meetup, and the escort went to Gawker to publicize the alleged incident. The post sparked heavy criticism for outing the executive, both within and outside Gawker.Denton removed the story the next day, after Gawker Media's managing partnership voted 4–2 to remove the post—marking the first time the website had "removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement." On July 20, 2015, Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Craggs and Gawker.com editor-in-chief Max Read posted their resignations from the company, citing the lack of transparency by and independence from the company's management over the post's removal, rather than the concerns over the post's issues and received criticism, as the cause. Denton offered staff who disagreed with the actions a buyout option, which was accepted by staff including features editor Leah Finnegan and senior editor and writer Caity Weaver. Denton defended the story's writer, Sargent, who remained in his job.
According to The Daily Beast , "a source familiar with the situation said Gawker ultimately paid the subject of the offending article a tidy undisclosed sum in order to avoid another lawsuit." Gawker Media President and General Counsel Heather Dietrick declined to confirm or deny there was a settlement.
On June 10, 2016, Gawker Media and its associated subsidiaries Gawker Sales, Gawker Entertainment, Gawker Technology and Blogwire filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York, following the loss of the Hogan lawsuit.CNBC also reported that Gawker Media would be put up for auction following the bankruptcy filing.
On August 18, 2016, Gawker Media announced that its flagship blog, gawker.com, would be ceasing operations the following week.Univision continues to operate Gawker Media's six other websites - Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku and Lifehacker . On August 22, 2016, Nick Denton wrote the final article for Gawker, titled "How Things Work".
Univision has since deleted all the comments on Gawker articles.
On March 14, 2006, Gawker launched Gawker Stalker Maps, a mashup of the site's Gawker Stalker feature and Google Maps. —originally a weekly roundup of celebrity sightings in New York City submitted by Gawker readers—was frequently updated, and the sightings are displayed on a map. The feature sparked criticism from celebrities and publicists for encouraging stalking. Actor and director George Clooney's representative Stan Rosenfeld described Gawker Stalker as "a dangerous thing". Jessica Coen said that the map is harmless, that Gawker readers are "for the most part, a very educated, well-meaning bunch", and that "if there is someone really intending to do a celebrity harm, there are much better ways to go about doing that than looking at the Gawker Stalker".After this, Gawker Stalker
On April 6, 2007, Emily Gould appeared on an edition of Larry King Live hosted by talk show host Jimmy Kimmel during a panel discussion titled "Paparazzi: Do They Go Too Far?" and was asked about the Gawker Stalker. Kimmel accused the site of potentially assisting real stalkers, adding that Gould and her website could ultimately be responsible for someone's death. Kimmel continued to claim a lack of veracity in Gawker's published stories, and the potential for libel it presents. At the end of the exchange Gould said that she didn't "think it was OK" for websites to publish false information, after which Kimmel said she should "check your website then."
On January 15, 2008, Gawker mirrored the Scientology video featuring Tom Cruise from the recently removed posting on YouTube.They soon posted a copyright infringement notice written by lawyers for Scientology. By July 2009, the video had not been removed and no lawsuit was filed.
On September 17, 2008, in reporting that pranksters associated with 4chan had hacked the personal e-mail account of Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Gawker published screenshots of the emails, photos, and address list obtained by the hackers.While accessing personal e-mail accounts without authorization constitutes a federal crime, current DOJ interpretation of this statute following the decision in Theofel v. Farey-Jones is that perpetrators may be prosecuted only for reading "unopened" emails. FBI Spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage, Alaska, confirmed that an investigation was underway.
On October 28, 2010, Gawker posted an anonymous post entitled "I Had a One-Night Stand with Christine O'Donnell". The piece discussed an alleged sexual encounter with O'Donnell, the Republican nominee in the 2010 Senate special election in Delaware. However, according to the writer, O'Donnell only slept naked with the anonymous writer and did not have sex with him.The National Organization for Women condemned the piece as "slut-shaming". NOW's president, Terry O'Neill, stated, "It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O'Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere." Salon's Justin Elliott criticized the ad hominem nature of the article, tweeting "Today, we are all Christine O'Donnell." Gawker.com reportedly paid in the "low four figures" for the story. Denton defended it, praising its "brilliant packaging".
In February 2011, Gawker posted an email exchange between United States Congressman Chris Lee and a woman he had met through a personal ad on Craigslist. The emails included the married Lee describing himself as a divorced lobbyist and a photo of him posing shirtless.Lee resigned his Congressional seat within hours of Gawker's story.
On December 11, 2010, Gawker and Gizmodo were hacked by a group named Gnosis. The hackers gained root access to the Linux-based servers, access to the source code, access to Gawker's custom CMS, databases (including writer and user passwords), Google Apps, and real-time chat logs from Gawker's Campfire instance, in addition to the Twitter accounts of Nick Denton and Gizmodo.The hacker group stated that they went after Gawker for their "outright arrogance" and for a previous feud between Gawker and 4chan. Gawker asked all its users to change their passwords and posted an advisory notice as well.
The following day, a database dump of user credentials, chat logs, and source code of the Gawker website was made available on The Pirate Bay, among other BitTorrent trackers.
On October 12, 2012, Adrian Chen posted an article identifying Reddit moderator Violentacrez as Michael Brutsch.In the days prior to publication of the story, Reddit's main politics channel, r/politics, and a number of other forums on the site banned Gawker links from their page; at one point, Gawker was banned from all of Reddit. Multiple commentators from Wired, CNET and The Next Web questioned the morality behind Brutsch's doxing, and began a debate over whether the exposé encouraged online vigilantism.
Gawker was sued by three former interns in 2013 for failing to pay them for producing revenue-generating content.As of February 2016, the case was still ongoing.
Terry Eugene Bollea, better known by his ring name Hulk Hogan, is an American retired professional wrestler. He is widely regarded as the most recognized wrestling star worldwide and the most popular wrestler of the 1980s.
Bubba the Love Sponge Clem is an American radio personality who hosts The Bubba the Love Sponge Show on the radio station WWBA in Tampa, Florida, and the subscription service Bubba Army Radio. He can also be heard on Florida Man Radio.
A celebrity sex tape is typically an amateur pornographic video recording involving one or more famous people which has, intentionally or unintentionally, been made available publicly. Such videos have often been released without the consent of their subjects and have damaged celebrities' careers. In 1988, for example, a sex tape caused significant damage to Rob Lowe's career.
Wonkette is an American online magazine of topical and political gossip, established in 2004 by Gawker Media and founding editor Ana Marie Cox. The editor since 2012 is Rebecca Schoenkopf, formerly of OC Weekly. Wonkette covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. to local schoolboards. Taking a sarcastic tone, the site focuses heavily on humorous breaking news, rumors, and the downfall of the powerful. It also deals with serious matters of politics and policy, producing in-depth analysis.
Gawker Media LLC was an American online media company and blog network. It was founded by Nick Denton in October 2003 as Blogwire, and was based in New York City. Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, as of 2012, Gawker Media was the parent company for seven different weblogs and many subsites under them: Gawker.com, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel. All Gawker articles are licensed on a Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial license. In 2004, the company renamed from Blogwire, Inc. to Gawker Media, Inc., and to Gawker Media LLC shortly after.
Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton is a British Internet entrepreneur, journalist and blogger, the founder and former proprietor of the blog collective Gawker Media, and was the managing editor of the New York-based Gawker, until a lawsuit by Terry Bollea bankrupted the company. For years after starting Gawker Media in 2003, Denton ran the company from his apartment in SoHo.
Kotaku is a video game website and blog that was originally launched in 2004 as part of the Gawker Media network. Notable former contributors to the site include Luke Smith, Cecilia D'Anastasio, Tim Rogers, and Jason Schreier.
Annalee Newitz is an American journalist, editor, and author of both fiction and nonfiction, who has written for the periodicals Popular Science and Wired. From 1999 to 2008 Newitz wrote a syndicated weekly column called Techsploitation, and from 2000 to 2004 was the culture editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In 2004 Newitz became a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. With Charlie Jane Anders, they also co-founded Other magazine, a periodical that ran from 2002 to 2007. From 2008 to 2015 Newitz was editor-in-chief of Gawker-owned media venture io9, and subsequently its direct descendant Gizmodo, Gawker's design and technology blog. As of 2019, Newitz is a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times.
Deadspin is a sports blog founded by Will Leitch in 2005 and based in Chicago. Previously owned by Gawker Media and Univision Communications, it is currently owned by G/O Media.
Lifehacker is a weblog about life hacks and software that launched on January 31, 2005. The site was originally launched by Gawker Media and is currently owned by G/O Media. The blog posts cover a wide range of topics including: Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux programs, iOS and Android, as well as general life tips and tricks. The website is known for its fast-paced release schedule from its inception, with content being published every half hour all day long.
Alex Pareene is an American journalist, writer, and editor. He was the editor of the online news magazine Gawker.
Valleywag was a Gawker Media blog with gossip and news about Silicon Valley personalities. It was initially launched under the direction of editor Nick Douglas in February 2006. After Douglas was fired, the blog was taken over by Owen Thomas. Thomas left in May 2009, and was replaced by Ryan Tate.
Gizmodo is a design, technology, science and science fiction website. It was originally launched as part of the Gawker Media network run by Nick Denton, and runs on the Kinja platform. Gizmodo also includes the subsite io9, which focuses on science fiction and futurism. Gizmodo is now part of G/O Media, owned by private equity firm Great Hill Partners.
Emily Gould is an American author, novelist and blogger who worked as an editor at Gawker. She has written several short stories and novels and is the co-owner, with fellow writer Ruth Curry, of the independent e-bookstore Emily Books.
Consumerist was a non-profit consumer affairs website owned by Consumer Media LLC, a subsidiary of Consumer Reports, with content created by a team of full-time reporters and editors. The site's focus was on consumerism and consumers' experiences and issues with companies and corporations, concentrating mostly on U.S. consumers. As an early proponent of crowdsourced journalism, some content was based on reader-submitted tips and complaints. The majority of the site's articles consisted of original content and reporting by the site's staff. On October 30, 2017, Consumer Reports shut down Consumerist, stating that coverage of consumer issues would now be found on the main Consumer Reports website.
Jezebel is a US-based website featuring news and cultural commentary geared towards women. It was launched in 2007 by Gawker Media under the editorship of Anna Holmes as a feminist counterpoint to traditional women's magazines. After the breakup of Gawker Media, the site was purchased by Univision Communications and later acquired by G/O Media.
Owen Thomas is an American blogger, journalist, and entrepreneur. He is the business editor at The San Francisco Chronicle.
The Awl was a website about "news, ideas and obscure Internet minutiae of the day" based in New York City. Its motto was "Be Less Stupid."
Bollea v. Gawker was a lawsuit filed in 2013 in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida, delivering a verdict on March 18, 2016. In the suit, Terry Eugene Bollea, known professionally as Hulk Hogan, sued Gawker Media, publisher of the Gawker website, and several Gawker employees and Gawker-affiliated entities, for posting portions of a sex tape of Bollea with Heather Clem, at that time the wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. Bollea's claims included invasion of privacy, infringement of personality rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Prior to trial, Bollea's lawyers said the privacy of many Americans was at stake while Gawker's lawyers said that the case could hurt freedom of the press in the United States.
Albert James Daulerio is an American writer and blogger. He is the former editor of Gawker and Deadspin. Daulerio famously published an excerpt of Hulk Hogan's sex tape, which led to a lawsuit and the bankruptcy and sale of Gawker Media.