Media Fortune Fame & Folly

Gawker is back

Here’s the ‘welcome back’ letter from Leah Finnegan (ex New York Times and The Outline), editor in chief of the ‘new’ Gawker, under the ownership of Bryan Goldberg’s BDG:

When Bustle Digital Group first approached me to revive Gawker last year, I said absolutely no way in hell. Who in God’s name would want to edit a website that was cratered by an evil tech lord and sullied by a botched relaunch? The Gawker name was toxic, but also weirdly revered; an intractable combination. It could not be brought back because it could never be what it once was, and also because what it once was was sued out of existence by a professional wrestler five years ago.

Ever persistent, Bustle approached me again in January. It was a dark time. I was living off of Biden Bucks, watching a lot of Love It or List It, and wondering what I would do with my life. Could I edit Gawker? Should I edit Gawker? Why not edit Gawker?

I thought about it. I thought about how I missed laughing at things on the internet. I laughed a lot when I previously worked at Gawker, and I laughed a lot reading Gawker. Sometimes I would read old Gawker posts just to see if I still had the ability to laugh. Nothing was funny anymore. There were no good sites to read. The world was lost in darkness and desperately needed light. Gawker, the cloudy sky whispered. Do Gawker … again.

Why did Bustle Digital Group want me to edit Gawker in the first place? Well, I was Gawker’s features editor from 2014 to 2015, before I was asked to leave because I live-tweeted a meeting during which Gawker founder Nick Denton hit his head on a lamp. From there I went on to be executive editor of The Outline, which was acquired by Bustle in 2019. Bustle immediately shut down The Outline when the pandemic started, for which I hold no ill will, because The Outline, while a very special site, made no money. I suppose my selling points as a potential editor-in-chief of Gawker were that I had previously worked at Gawker and Bustle and was unemployed. I was also willing to do it, which not many people can say. And I am a genius.

So, clearly, I said yes. My first order of business, after deleting all the old posts I wrote, was hiring all my favorite writers and editors. Gawker always existed on the strengths of its writers and editors, and this group is really, really good. I love them.

In closing, I ask you to approach this new iteration of Gawker with an open mind and an open heart. Gawker inspires a lot of emotion in people (men), which is fine. Showing emotion is a sign of strength. The current laws of civility mean that no, it can’t be exactly what it once was, but we strive to honor the past and embrace the present. We are here to make you laugh, I hope, and think, and do a spit-take or furrow your brow, or maybe go “huh!” or “wow!” or “damn!” or “what the fuck?” or “I’m glad someone finally said it!” You might notice it all looks a little different, and to that I say “a change of scenery enriches the soul.” So, I hope you like it. And if you don’t, that’s really more of a “you” problem, I think.

Love from your Editor in Chief,

Leah

Gawker