Type of site
|Created by||Anna Holmes|
|Launched||May 21, 2007|
Jezebel was launched on May 21, 2007, as the 14th Gawker blog. According to founding editor Anna Holmes, the site stemmed from the desire to better serve Gawker.com's female readers, who made up 70% of the site's readership at the time. The Jezebel manifesto states that the site "will attempt to take all the essentially meaningless but sweet stuff directed our way and give it a little more meaning, while taking more the serious stuff and making it more fun, or more personal, or at the very least the subject of our highly sophisticated brand of sex joke. Basically, we wanted to make the sort of women's magazine we'd want to read." One of the site's guiding principles, according to Holmes, is to avoid saying "misogynist things about women's weight."
At Jezebel's launch, the editorial staff included Holmes, who previously worked at Star and InStyle; editor Moe Tkacik, a former Wall Street Journal reporter; and associate editor Jennifer Gerson, a former assistant to Elle editor-in-chief Roberta Myers. Gerson left the site in May 2008 to become the Women's Editor for the Polo Ralph Lauren website; Tkacik departed in August 2008 to work at Gawker.com, after briefly accepting and then rescinding a job offer from Radar. Tkacik was subsequently laid off in a company-wide restructuring the following October. Holmes left the site in June 2010; Jessica Coen replaced her as editor-in-chief. Other current staffers include Madeleine Davies, Kelly Faircloth, Hillary Crosley, Kate Dries and Callie Beusman.
On its first day of operation, Jezebel offered a $10,000 reward for the best example of a magazine cover photo prior to being retouched for publication. The winning entry, announced in July 2007, was a photo of Faith Hill that was used on the July cover of Redbook. Jezebel pointed out 11 different ways the photo had been drastically altered, including radically distorting Hill's left arm. Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison said that their retouching of Hill's photo was in line with industry standards and that Redbook was investigating how the unretouched image had been released. Media coverage of the controversy included discussion and interviews on NBC's Today show and in several other publications.
In December 2007, Jezebel reached 10 million monthly views. Gawker's owner Nick Denton pointed to Jezebel's soaring popularity as one reason for a drop-off in traffic at the company's main site, Gawker.com, which fell from more than 11 million page views in October 2007 to about eight million in December.
A July 2008 article in the Ottawa Citizen included Jezebel as one of several sites launched as part of the "online estrogen revolution," referring to a comScore finding that community-based women's websites were tied with political sites as the Internet's fastest-growing category. The article also cited Ad Age's research showing that women's Internet use is outpacing men's.
In 2010, Jezebel received widespread media coverage when it criticized The Daily Show for its treatment of women writers and correspondents. As a result of this publicity, the site was parodied as "JoanOfSnark.com" on an episode of 30 Rock, "TGS Hates Women". A Slate article at the time criticized the blog and similar feminist blogs for manipulating readers to achieve page views by masking anger (often aimed at attractive women) as a result of jealousy and insecurity as "righteously indignant rage" and promoting in-group behavior at the expense of rational discourse.
Kashmir Hill, of Forbes, has been critical of the blog on two occasions. In 2012, Jezebel faced criticism when it published screen shots of a video depicting a rape and some users threatened to boycott the site. Later, in November 2012, Jezebel was criticized for publicizing the names of teenagers who posted racist tweets in response to Barack Obama's re-election.
The website has been criticized at times for how it handles race issues, including its selection in July 2014 of a white woman as the new editor-in-chief over a black candidate who had been with the site since its founding.
In 2014 Jezebel writers revealed that the company Gawker Media failed to address a series of violent, rape-themed images and personal harassment directed to its staff and readers. Throughout the blogs existence it has faced ongoing threats of physical violence and sexual assault, due to its gender equality theme. In the post, which was titled “We Have a Rape Gif Problem and Gawker Media Won’t Do Anything About It” the site’s staff wrote that “an individual or individuals has been using anonymous, untraceable burner accounts to post gifs of violent pornography in the discussion section of stories on Jezebel” for months.
In 2014, Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post criticized Jezebel for its article about Vogue's February issue, which depicted a retouched photograph of actress Lena Dunham on its cover along with retouched images of her within. Dewey described it as a "feminist self-parody", stating that "[Editor-in-chief Jessica] Coen doesn't just object to the type of unrealistic, unhealthy Photoshopping that warps our collective perception of what constitutes a normal size and shape, but to alterations of any kind", which she believes "doesn't really further that cause" of combating distorted body image in advertising.
- Stephanie D. Smith, Irin Carmon. "Memo Pad." Women's Wear Daily, 2007-05-21.
- "Journalist Q&A - Anna Holmes, Jezebel." PR Week (US), 2007-06-04.
- "Jezebel Manifesto: The Five Great Lies of Women's Magazines". Jezebel.com, 2007-11-01.
- Johnson, Steve. "Steve Johnson column." The Chicago Tribune, 2007-07-25.
- Holmes, Anna."You Can Take the Girl Out of Jezebel, But You Can't Take The Jezebel Out of the Girl". Jezebel.com, 2005-05-05.
- Holmes, Anna. "Announcements". Jezebel.com, 2008-07-23.
- Koblin, John. "Denton Shuffles Deck: Hires Snyder as M.E. of Gawker; Moe Tkacik Let Go." The New York Observer, 2008-10-03.
- Stephanie D. Smith, Irin Carmon, Amy Wicks. "Memo Pad." Women's Wear Daily, 2007-07-17.
- Tkacik, Moe. "The Annotated Guide to Making Faith Hill 'Hot'". Jezebel.com, 2007-07-16.
- Armstrong, Jenice. "Not fair to Faith." Philadelphia Daily News, 2007-07-25.
- Ives, Nat. "Keeping people from blowing their covers; How magazines protect exclusive content in age of web, celeb obsession." Advertising Age, 2007-10-01.
- Salkin, Allen. "Has Gawker Jumped the Snark?" The New York Times, 2008-01-13.
- Harris, Misty. "The 'Online estrogen revolution.'" Ottawa Citizen, 2008-07-29.
- Mascia, Jennifer (June 11, 2010). "A Web Site That's Not Afraid to Pick a Fight". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- Blake, Meredith (February 25, 2011). "'30 Rock' recap: Joan of snark". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- Gould, Emily (July 6, 2010). "Outrage World". Slate. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- Hill, Kashmir (February 10, 2012). "This Week In Horrible Journalism: Jezebel's Rape Photos". Forbes. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- Hill, Kashmir (November 9, 2012). "Should Teenagers Have Racist Election Tweets In Their Google Results For Life? Jezebel Votes Yes.". Forbes. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- Sterne, Peter, "Mixed emotions as Jezebel gets new editor", Capital, 7 July 2014
- Luvvie, "Jezebel gets it wrong with new ‘Editor’ hire", The Grio, 8 July 2014
- Coen, Jessica (January 17, 2014). "Here Are the Unretouched Images From Lena Dunham's Vogue Shoot". Jezebel. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
- Dewey, Caitlin (January 17, 2014). "Jezebel falls into feminist self-parody in Lena Dunham Photoshop ‘controversy’". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 11, 2015.