At its peak, Gawker was malicious, edgy, hateful, radical, and dedicated to destroying anyone on its wrong side. These days that’s just the media.
When Ben Smith’s New York Times headline asks, “If Gawker Is Nice, Is It Still Gawker?”, eyes roll.
The media has long since become Gawker.
Digital media, like BuzzFeed, has been integrated into the old brand names like the New York Times. That’s where Ben Smith alternately writes hit pieces and fawning profiles of various media figures.
But the New York Times, which hired Sarah Jeong, which runs online videos about how awful white people are, which sets out to practice cancel culture as cheerfully as Gawker, shows off the fusion of digital media radicalism with old media brands.
In 2005, the distinction between digital media and old media was obvious. In 2021, it hardly exists. And even where it exists, it’s mainly a function of house style which is itself a brand strategy, not a moral or ethical dimension.
The old Gawker brand of white hipsters trolling people online is now just the media brand. And there’s no real room for Gawker, in its rebranded form, when the whole media is Gawker.
Ben Smith’s profile of the new Gawker and its editor just shows up the absurdity of pretending that the entire media isn’t Gawker.
Ms. Finnegan has come to this role after a career of starts and, mostly, stops. After running The Daily Texan, the student paper at the University of Texas at Austin, she landed — and then lost — jobs at Huffington Post and The New York Times. She was pushed out at Gawker after she confronted Mr. Denton over his decision to take down a story outing an obscure media executive as gay, and live-tweeted their dispute.
The New York Times and Gawker are the same sewer. There’s no real point in reviving Gawker when everything is Gawker. The New York Times is Gawker. Alt-Right sites which made a point of imitating it are Gawker. Its voice, cheerfully smug and reeking of hipster contempt, is everywhere.
It’s not just Gawker, but a generation of media projects like The Daily Show which made that voice the sonorous tone of a generation, hatred disguised as irony, personal dysfunction channeled into politics, and knowingness passed off as intellect.
In a world where people are canceled for implied offenses, no one can quite define, Gawker is all but passe.
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