Gawker Media

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Gawker Media
Gawker.jpg
Web address Gawker Media
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Blog network
Created by Nick Denton (Publisher)
Max Read (Gawker.com)
Gina Trapani (Lifehacker)
Tommy Craggs (Deadspin)
Stephen Totilo (Kotaku)
Jessica Coen (Jezebel)
Annalee Newitz (io9)
Matt Hardigree (Jalopnik)
Joe Brown (Gizmodo)
Launched January 2003
Current status Active

Gawker Media is a Cayman Islands-incorporated[1] online media company and blog network, founded and owned by Nick Denton based in New York City. It is considered[2] to be one of the most visible and successful blog-oriented media companies.[citation needed] As of March 2012, it is the parent company for eight different weblogs: Gawker.com, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, io9, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel. All Gawker articles are licensed on a Creative Commons attribution-NonCommercial license. [1]

Revenue and traffic[edit]

While Denton does not go into detail over Gawker Media's finances, he has downplayed the profit potential of blogs[2], declaring that "[b]logs are likely to be better for readers than for capitalists. While I love the medium, I've always been skeptical about the value of blogs as businesses", on his personal site[3].

However, in the February 20, 2006 issue of New York Magazine, Jossip founder David Hauslaib estimated Gawker.com's annual advertising revenue to be at least $1 million two years ago, and possibly over $2 million a year.[4] Combined with low operating costs—mostly web hosting fees and writer salaries—Denton was already believed to be turning a healthy profit in 2006.[5] In 2009, the corporation was estimated to be worth $300 million, with $60 million in advertising revenues and more than $30 million in operating profit.[3]

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Gawker Media was originally incorporated in Budapest, Hungary, where a small company facility is still maintained. The company was headquartered at Nick Denton's personal residence in the New York neighborhood of SoHo, and it remained there until 2008 when a new base of operations was created in Nolita in Manhattan.[4]

Expansions and contractions[edit]

On April 14, 2008, Gawker.com announced that Gawker Media had sold three sites: Idolator, Gridskipper, and Wonkette.[citation needed]

In a fall 2008 memo Denton announced the layoff of "19 of our 133 editorial positions" at Valleywag, Consumerist, Fleshbot and other sites, and the hiring of 10 new employees for the most commercially successful sites—Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and Gawker—and others which were deemed to promise similar commercial success (Jezebel, io9, Deadspin, and Jalopnik).[5] Denton also announced the suspension of a bonus payment scheme based on pageviews by which Gawker had paid $50,000 a month on the average to its staff, citing a need to generate actual advertising revenue as opposed to just increasing traffic. He explained these decisions by referring to the 2008 credit crisis, but stated that the company was still profitable.[5] In September 2008, Gawker reported 274 million pageviews.[5]

On November 12, 2008, Gawker announced that Valleywag would fold into Gawker.com. The Consumerist was sold to Consumers Union, who took over the site on January 1, 2009. [6]

On February 22, 2009, Gawker announced that Defamer.com would fold into Gawker.com.[6]

In October 2009, Gawker Media websites were infected with malware in the form of fake Suzuki advertisements. The exploits infected unprotected users with spyware and crashed infected computer's browsers. The network apologized by simply stating "Sorry About That. Our ad sales team fell for a malware scam. Sorry if it crashed your computer".[7] Gawker shared the correspondence between the scammers and Gawker via Business Insider.[8]

On February 15, 2010, Gawker announced it had acquired CityFile, an online directory of celebrities and media personalities. Gawker's Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Snyder announced that he was being replaced by CityFile editor Remy Stern.[7]

Sourcecode breach[edit]

On December 11, 2010, the Gawker group's 1.3 million commenter accounts and their entire website source code was released by a hacker group named Gnosis.[9][10] Gawker issued an advisory notice stating: "Our user databases appear to have been compromised. The passwords were encrypted. But simple ones may be vulnerable to a brute-force attack. You should change your Gawker password and on any other sites on which you've used the same passwords".[11] Gawker was found to be using DES-based crypt(3) password hashes with 12 bits of salt.[12] Security researchers found that password-cracking software "John the Ripper" was able to quickly crack over 50% of the passwords from those records with crackable password hashes.[12] Followers of Twitter accounts set up with the same email and password were spammed with advertisements.[13] The Gnosis group notes that with the source code to the Gawker content management system they obtained, it will be easier to develop new exploits.[14]

2011 redesign and traffic loss[edit]

As part of a planned overhaul of all Gawker Media sites,[15][16] on 1 February, 2011, some Gawker sites underwent a major design change as part of the larger roll-out. Most notable was the absence of heretofore present Twitter and StumbleUpon sharing buttons. Nick Denton explained that Facebook had been by far the biggest contributor to the sites' traffic and that the other buttons cluttered the interface.[17][18] This decision lasted three weeks, after which

On 7 February, 2011, the redesign was rolled out to the remainder of the Gawker sites. The launch was troubled due to server issues.[19][20] Kotaku.com and io9.com failed to load, displaying links but no main content, and opening different posts in different tabs didn't work, either. [21] The new look emphasised images and de-emphasised the reverse chronological ordering of posts that was typical of blogs. The biggest change was the two-panel layout, consisting of one big story, and a list of headlines on the right. This was seen as an effort to increase the engagement of site visitors, by making the user experience more like that of television.[22] The site redesign also allowed for users to create their own discussion pages, on Gawker's Kinda.[23] Many commenters largely disliked the new design, which was in part attributed to lack of familiarity.[24][25]

Rex Sorgatz, designer of Mediaite, issued a bet that the redesigns would fail, and Nick Denton took him up on it. The measure was the number of page views by October recorded on Quantcast.[26][27] Pageviews after the redesign declined significantly—Gawker's sites saw an 80% decrease in overall traffic immediately after the change[28] and a 50% decrease over two weeks[29][30]—with many users either leaving the site or viewing international versions of the site, which hadn't switched to the new layout.[31] On 28 February, 2011, faced with declining traffic, Gawker sites allowed for visitors to choose between the new design and the old design for viewing the sites.[32][33] As of February 2012, site traffic had increased by 10 million over the previous year, according to Quantcast.[34] As of March 23, 2012, commenting on any Gawker site required signing in with a Twitter, Facebook, or Google account.[35]

Leaked script[edit]

In January 2014, Quentin Tarantino filed a copyright lawsuit against Gawker Media for distribution of his 146-page script for The Hateful Eight. He claimed to have given the script to one of six few trusted colleagues, including Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen.[36][37] Due to the spreading of his script, Tarantino told the media that he wouldn't continue with the movie. "Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck," Tarantino said in his lawsuit. "This time they went too far. Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that Plaintiff’s screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood without his permission, Gawker Media crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire Screenplay illegally."[38][39][40]

Collective action[edit]

On 22 June, 2013, unpaid interns brought a Fair Labor Standards Act action against Gawker Media and founder Nick Denton.[19][41] As plaintiffs, the interns claimed that their work at sites io9.com, Kotaku.com, Lifehacker.com and Gawker.TV was “central to Gawker’s business model as an Internet publisher,” and that Gawker’s failure to pay them minimum wage for their work therefore violated the FLSA and state labor laws. Although some interns had been paid, the court granted conditional certification of the collective action.[42][43]

In October 2014, a federal judge ruled that notices may be sent to unpaid interns throughout the company who may potentially join the lawsuit.[44]

List of Gawker Media weblogs[edit]

Current[edit]

  • Cink – Hungarian
  • Deadspin – Sports
    • Screamer – Deadspin's soccer hub
    • The Concourse – Music, food, sports-related pop culture
  • Gawker.com – New York City media and gossip, tabloid
    • Valleywag – San Francisco, Silicon Valley and tech gossip
  • Gizmodo – Gadget and technology lifestyle
    • Sploid – News, futuristic ideas and tech
  • io9 – Science/Science Fiction
  • Jalopnik – Cars and automotive culture
    • Truck Yeah! – Trucks and truck culture
  • Jezebel – Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for women
  • Kotaku – Video games and East Asian pop culture
  • Lifehacker – Productivity tips

Licensed Australian weblogs[edit]

  • Gizmodo Australia – Gadgets and technology
  • Kotaku Australia – Games and gaming industry coverage
  • Lifehacker Australia – Tips, tricks, tutorials, hacks, downloads and guides

Weblogs formerly owned by Gawker[edit]

  • Cityfile
  • Consumerist – Consumer advocate: Now owned by Consumer Reports
  • Defamer – Hollywood news and gossip: Now a tag on Gawker
  • Fleshbot – Pornography: Now owned by editor Lux Alptraum
  • Gawker Artists – Contemporary/Rising Art Registry [8]
  • Gawker.TV – Television and online video
  • Gridskipper – Travel: Now owned by Curbed Network
  • Idolator – Music: Now owned by BuzzMedia
  • Oddjack – Gambling
  • Screenhead – Online video: Now unrelated film site
  • Sploid – News (Operational once again, as of early 2014)
  • Wonkette – Washington D.C. gossip and politics: Now independent

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gawker Media. Using Gawker Media Content
  2. ^ Penenberg, Adam L. "Can Bloggers Strike It Rich?" Wired. September 22, 2005.
  3. ^ Denton, Nick. "Nano Wars" March 8, 2005.[dead link]
  4. ^ Thompson, Clive. "Blogs to Riches – The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom" New York Magazine. February 20, 2006.
  5. ^ Carr, David. "A Blog Mogul Turns Bearish on Blogs", New York Times, July 3, 2006
  6. ^ Pareene, Alex. "Memo: Gawker Sells Three Sites" April 14, 2008.
  1. ^ Gardner, Eric (February 19, 2014) "Gawker to Quentin Tarantino: We're Safely Based in the Cayman Islands" Hollywood Reporter. (Retrieved 3-5-2014.)
  2. ^ Gawker Media is the Goldman Sachs of the Internet, The Awl, July 27, 2009
  3. ^ McIntyre, Douglas A. (2009-11-10). "The Twenty-Five Most Valuable Blogs In America". 24/7 Wall St. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  4. ^ McGrath, Ben (18 October 2010). "Search and Destroy: Nick Denton's blog empire". The New Yorker (Condé Nast): 50–61. Retrieved 2011-01-21. 
  5. ^ a b c Owen Thomas: Valleywag cuts 60 percent of staff Valleywag, 3 October 2008
  6. ^ "Defamer Folds Into Gawker; Editors to Pursue Careers in Bearded Hip-Hop". gawker.com. 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2009-03-23.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ Popken, Ben (2009-10-27). "Gawker Duped By Malware Gang, Serves Up Infected Suzuki Ads". The Consumerist. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  8. ^ Blodget, Henry (2009-10-26). "Gawker Scammed By Malware Crew Pretending To Be Suzuki". Business Insider. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  9. ^ Techshrimp
  10. ^ "Gawker website Hacked by Gnosis ; Gnosis says they are not 4chan or Anonymous". TechShrimp. 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  11. ^ "Commenting Accounts Compromised — Change Your Passwords". Lifehacker. 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  12. ^ a b "Brief Analysis of the Gawker Password Dump". Duo Security. 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  13. ^ "Acai Berry spam attack connected with Gawker password hack, says Twitter | Naked Security". Nakedsecurity.sophos.com. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  14. ^ "Gnosis on Gawker Hack, Web Security". Geekosystem. 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  15. ^ Salmon, Felix (2010-12-1). "The new Gawker Media". Retrieved 2014-10-21.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ Peterson, Latoya (2011-02-08). "How Gawker’s redesign subverts the scannable culture of the Internet it helped create". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  17. ^ McCarthy, Caroline (2011-02-01). "Twitter buttons disappear from Gawker redesign". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  18. ^ Jeffries, Adrianne (2011-02-25). "gawker redesign Gawker’s Ban on ‘Shiny Bauble’ Share Buttons Lasted One Week". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  19. ^ a b Covert, James (2011-02-08). "Gawker Web redesign met with Bronx cheers". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  20. ^ Romenesko, Jim (2014-02-28). "Denton: Gawker’s redesign more bruising than it needed to be". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  21. ^ LaCapria, Kim (2011-02-07). "Are you digging on the Gawker Media extreme makeover?". 
  22. ^ Mims, Christopher (2011-02-11). "Gawker.com's Redesign is the Future of Gawker--Period". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  23. ^ Ellis, Justin (2011-02-12). "Jalopnik redesign shows how Gawker Media plans to open up blogging to its readers". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  24. ^ Cite error: The named reference Poynter was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  25. ^ Leach, Anna (2011-03-29). "Rage against the redesign". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  26. ^ Garber, Megan (2011-02-07). "“It just feels inevitable”: Nick Denton on Gawker Media sites’ long-in-the-works new layout". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  27. ^ Observer Staff (2011-02-07). "Nick Denton Bets Cash Gawker Redesign Boosts Pageviews". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  28. ^ "Gawker's Traffic Numbers Are Worse Than Anyone Anticipated – Nicholas Jackson". The Atlantic. 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  29. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (2011-02-17). "Gawker's Gulp Moment: Big Redesign Is Driving People Away". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  30. ^ De Rosa, Anthony (2011-03-03). "The rise and fall of Gawker media". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  31. ^ "Gawker.com Site Info". Alexa.com. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  32. ^ Stableford, Dylan (2014-02-28). "Gawker Admits Redesign Mistakes, Rolls Out Fixes". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  33. ^ Alvarez, Alex (2011-03-01). "Nick Denton Admits Gawker’s Redesign Wasn’t All They’d Hoped It Be". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  34. ^ Olanoff, Drew (2012-02-02). "Remember that Gawker redesign? A year’s worth of data says it worked". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  35. ^ "Transitioning Your Commenting Account: The FAQ". Lifehacker.com. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  36. ^ Quentin Tarantino sues Gawker over Hateful Eight script leak - Arts & Entertainment - CBC News
  37. ^ Gettell, Oliver (January 22, 2014). "Quentin Tarnatino mothballs 'Hateful Eight' after script leak". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  38. ^ Gardner, Eriq (27 January 2014). "Quentin Tarantino Suing Gawker Over Leaked 'Hateful Eight' Script (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  39. ^ Shotwell, James (27 January 2014). "QUENTIN TARANTINO SUING GAWKER FOR SHARING LEAKED ‘HATEFUL EIGHT’ SCRIPT". Under the Gun Review. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  40. ^ O'Connell, Sean (27 January 2014). "Quentin Tarantino Sues Gawker Over The Hateful Eight Script Leak". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  41. ^ Smythe, Christie (2013-06-22). "Gawker’s Unpaid Interns Sue After Fox Searchlight Ruling". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  42. ^ Gardner, Eriq. "Gawker Hit With Class Action Lawsuit by Former Interns". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  43. ^ Smith, Allen (2014-08-20). "Gawker Faces Collective Action by Unpaid Interns". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  44. ^ The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law (2014-10-19). "Gawker is latest target of unpaid intern class action". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 

External links[edit]