Gawker – The future of news?

"Enormous Penis Located on Google Maps". Last time I checked, Gawker’s illustrated story about the huge penises drawn on school lawns in New Zealand had racked up over 46,000 views. A more recently posted story tells of how "A man in Russia broke into a hair salon and the owner of the salon beat him up, tied him to a radiator and kept him as a sex slave for three days" (it turns out the story is 2 years old and probably apocryphal).

In an article for the Atlantic, James Fallows visits Gawker and discovers a media outfit dedicated to giving readers what they want (rather than what journalists think they should have):

The first thing you see on entering Gawker’s loft-size open work area is a huge screen that looks like a nicer, higher-def version of what you might see in a brokerage house. The top part of the screen shows live views of the home pages of the main Gawker properties—Gizmodo, Jezebel, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Gawker itself, and others (excluding Gawker’s sex-oriented site, Fleshbot, which accounts for about 5 percent of the company’s total traffic). Together, according to 1 Denton, the sites bring in some 32 million unique visitors worldwide a month, about the same as The New York Times and twice as many as The Washington Post. Meters display the second-by-second traffic to each site. As users log on to a site, and leave, the needles on the meters go up and down to register its popularity. The bottom part of the screen lists specific stories from each of the Gawker Media sites and across the company as a whole, ranked by how many people are viewing them at each moment—and those numbers are listed. As you watch, the stories switch places on the screen, each with a green arrow if it’s trending up or a red arrow if it’s heading down.

And it’s not just editors and writers who can view the stats. Gawker publishes them at the top of each story for everyone to see. There’s even a public page showing how much traffic each writer attracts to the site. When Gawker publisher Nick Denton announced a new bonus system based on "US monthly uniques" rather than page views Gawker published his memo to staff on the public website .

No doubt this kind of thing terrifies journalists. In an interview with Fallows, Denton explains that advertisers aren’t going to pay good money so that journalists can write about worthy topics. "Nobody wants to eat the boring vegetables" he said, "Nor does anyone want to pay 2 to encourage people to eat their vegetables." At Gawker everything from the headline down is designed to attract clicks, tweets and links.

So if "worthy" journalism doesn’t fit into an online business model that depends on advertising, is there a way to pay for it? Denton suggests local volunteers or philanthropy. That should reassure nervous journos.

  1. publisher Nick[]
  2. via advertising[]
This entry was posted in Journalism, Media. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
paul walter
paul walter
12 years ago

Well, we wouldn’t have to worry about this sort of thing except for women. Women, despite strident denials to the contrary, ARE always fascinated with them, including at representational level.
Now, we (blokes) know that it’s a mundane subject, but what is that fixates women as to this subject to the extent that even media is captured by the issue.?