paper trail

Eulogies and postmortems for Gawker

Daisuke Wakabayashi

Gawker’s last day was Monday, and the tributes, remembrances, justifications, and arguments continue to pour in from its former writers and editors, while Josh Laurito, of the Gawker Data Team, crunches the numbers (in total, Gawker has received about 7 billion pageviews of 202,370 posts). Alex Balk writes about the website’s vaunted maxim, “honesty is our only virtue,” and considers the ways in which it did not always live up to that ideal: “Gawker’s biggest lies were the ones it told about itself. But these errors were small in scale when measured up against the pervasive duplicity offered by the other publications Gawker was established to counter.” Hamilton Nolan reflects on the freedom that Gawker offered its writers, noting that “this site contains the very best and worst things that many writers have written. This fact drives many people mad. But to the sort of person who was cut out to be a Gawker writer, it was just right.” Tom Scocca (author of one of Gawker’s all-time highlights, “On Smarm”) argues against the idea that Gawker burned out because it was too reckless and mean—a notion that has already become the conventional explanation. Referring to Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley tycoon who bankrolled the Gawker-killing Hulk Hogan lawsuit, Scocca says there is one larger truth that we should take from the saga: “You live in a country where a billionaire can put a publication out of business. A billionaire can pick off an individual writer and leave that person penniless and without legal protection. If you want to write stories that might anger a billionaire, you need to work for another billionaire yourself, or for a billion-dollar corporation. The law will not protect you.” Four former editors, including founding editor Elizabeth Spiers, bid the site farewell.

The New York Times has hired Daisuke Wakabayashi to write about technology with a very narrow focus: As he puts it on his Twitter bio, he’ll be reporting on “mainly Google.” Wakabayashi was formerly a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where he covered the Apple beat.

The Times has also selected three multimedia journalists to serve as “Embedded Mediamakers” on their Race/Related newsletter and reporting team. Bayeté Ross Smith, Logan Jaffe, and Saleem Reshamwala will be funded by the MacArthur Foundation and spend either ten or twenty weeks working on digital storytelling about race.

“I still find ‘Negro’ a word of wonders, glorious and terrible,” writes Margo Jefferson. She’ll be at the Strand tonight discussing Negroland, for which she won a National Book Critics Circle Award, with the writer and critic Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah.