In Which We Fish With Mirrors



by Tyler Coates

I’ll be the first to admit that I loved Gawker.

I started reading the site two years ago at a moment in my life when I was most impressionable: I was a young recent college graduate entering the workplace for the first time in his life, and I was on the Internet for the majority of the day. I didn’t live in New York, but Gawker made me start to regret my decision to move to Chicago instead of the Big Apple. And while I’d been revealing too much about my personal life online for years (from “diaries” to “journals” to “blogs“), it wasn’t until I started reading Gawker that I realized that one could actually be talented at it.

Something has changed, however, and it has happened drastically.


jessica coen

A little over a year ago, when Jessica Coen left the site, an (older) friend of mine told me that Gawker just didn’t feel the same to him. He felt like the new regime wasn’t as entertaining as the one before it. Looking back, I feel the same way about the new regime-change. I had huge Internet crushes on Choire Sicha and Emily Gould.


Even Alex Balk intrigued the hell out of me. These people weren’t just bloggers to me, but they turned into characters, which, I admit, they sort of created themselves. All the while, I knew who Nick Denton was (based on the caricature painted by the Gawker writers), but he never seemed anything other than a comical emperor who barely controlled his subjects.

And then Choire and Emily quit, and Nick Denton took over as managing editor of his flagship website because – clearly – no one else wanted to touch it. And what did he do? He got rid of the things that made Gawker, Gawker.


Blue States Lose was reduced to a random feature that occurred occasionally during the week (and, come to think of it, I haven’t seen it lately). Tionna “Tee” Smalls was famously fired from her column, which seemed to only exist to make fun of its author in the first place. And how about my personal favorite, The Unethicist? (Gabe, you’re a gem.)

gould and smalls

It’s possible that we should have seen this coming. What originally instigated Choire and Emily‘s resignations was Nick Denton‘s pay-per-page view system, which rewarded the bloggers who were able to publish posts that attracted more site visits. So, to make an analogy, the author of a National Treasure: Book of Secrets-style post would make more money than the author of a There Will Be Blood-kind of post. But does that make it RIGHT?

(Honestly, if Alex Carnevale, the Denton of This Recording, wanted me to write more popular columns for money, I’d be writing about The Hills rather than fucking GAWKER.)


Now that the blog Gawker has become the story – as several other blogs, websites, and even (gasp!) the New York Times publish articles about the site – Gawker has become incredibly self-referential. Will Nick Denton instruct his bloggers to continue writing about themselves and, perhaps more importantly, Him?

Gakwer has (obviously) addressed the claims, with Nick Denton showing us, through a graph, how the blog has maintained its popularity despite the criticisms that the quality of the site has declined.


But is that even surprising? It’s not even possible for a blog to get negative press, as any link will provide a positive result. What I think is more telling of Gawker’s unpopularity is that the people who have so strongly supported the blog in the past have started to turn against it.

The New York Times published the fantastic IM conversation between Denton and Richard Morgan, who quit after one day of work. My favorite part of the convo, which practically served as Morgan’s interview:

In Gawker Media’s defense, there is Jezebel, which currently serves as the internet’s It Blog.

Don’t let its tagline (“Celebrity, Sex, Fashion. Without Airbrushing”) fool you; it’s not a gossip blog, it doesn’t fuel the reputations of “in-house celebrities,” and it’s not too-“girly” in nature.

Sure, it’s certainly a website with a feminist perspective, but it’s foremost a well-written, hilarious, and perceptive blog that is appealing to both sexes. It uses its feminist stance in a way to bring in both female and male readers, as opposed to alienating a potential audience, which Gawker, despite its best intentions, somehow always manages to do.

Tyler Coates is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a blogger living in Chicago.


“A Million Stars” – Seas (mp3)

“Cold Hearts” – Seas (mp3)

“Something I Can’t Have” (Jesus & Mary Chain cover) – Seas (mp3)

Ben Green is Seas.


The Syndicate made its officious debut.

“Today the best thing I saw was at the airport, a little girl was waiting line at customs, trailing behind her family, touching each one of the poles that are there to keep us in lines, hugging each pole and kissing each pole as she passed.” Would you like to know more?

Molly got depressed about late capitalist America.

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