Media Moves: Gawker's New Politics Hire Leaving Previously Gawker-Owned Wonkette; True/Slant Sale Looking Somewhat Stale
Two major New York media moves to report today: Gawker has filled a recently widened gap for political blogging and reporting, while True/Slant - the little network that could -- was purchased in an M & A deal that met expectations in more ways than one.
Gawker Gets All Wonked Up: Notorious D.C. politics blog Wonkette has quite the alumni list, and it's adding to it yet again. It's already helped launch the career of political columnist Ana Marie Cox, infamous high-priced D.C. hooker-blogger The Washingtonian got a book out of them, Vanity Fair's (notable, underrated) blogger Juli Weiner's last job before going to VF was there, and an 18 year-old NYU dropout named Alex Pareene started at Wonkette, eventually making his way to Gawker as a full-time blogger. Pareene recently left a giant hole in Gawker's politics coverage when he departed for Slate , and the question of whether or not they were going to fill it (and with who) has now been answered: Wonkette blogger Jim Newell is leaving the site to go to Gawker. Newell writes:
I am leaving you people, my beloved readers, to type about politics for another Internet blog. The blog is called RedState. No just kidding, it's Gawker.
Yes, it's true. After replacing Alex Pareene at Wonkette in 2007, I will now replace... Alex Pareene... at Gawker's politics slot, which he left very recently. As long as I keep blatantly copying his style, I should have steady employment for life, as he is very talented.
I am not sure when my last day at Wonkette will be -- either at the end of this week or early next week. YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO KNOW, unless someone else is...It's damn near paralyzing to think about leaving Wonkette. This is good news for John McCain.
While McCain has yet to express his excitement - and while it has yet to be seen exactly what and how Newell's going to be writing for Gawker - Wonkette's readership, if the comments are any indications, are up in arms, most of them being some variation of:
That said, Wonkette still has the much-beloved Ken Layne - who's been at the heart of the site for quite some time now - as its editor, and likely won't get the kind of "FUCK YOU I'M SOOO OUTTAHERE" response that often occurs when a beloved writer like Newell leaves a blog. And it's probably worth noting somewhere in here that Wonkette was once owned by Gawker Media publisher Nick Denton, which is just strange to think about now.
Anyway! Gawker's had quite the busy staffing season since March:
- Remy Stern replaced Gabriel Snyder as editor-in-chief.
- Investigative reporter John Cook left Gawker for Yahoo.
- Alex Pareene left Gawker for Salon.
- A weekend editor - full disclosure: ahem - left Gawker for The Village Voice.
- Maureen O'Connor and Adrian Chen graduated from night editors into staff writing positions.
- Max Read from The Daily Beast and Jeff Newman recently joined up as contributing editors, and previous night editor Ravi Somaiya has seen his workload increase as well.
- And Sergio Hernandez made the masthead as Gawker's sole editorial intern.
So there's that. Also in Gawker news, a meme-blog called Nick Denton in the Background has surfaced on Tumblr. Which is oddly fascinating both in and out of context.
True/Slant's Sells Soul to Forbes: It certainly appears to be a soul-selling, instead of the complex M & A we anticipated with hope would happen. The blog network announced today that they're being acquired by one of their primary investors, Forbes, where True/Slant founder Lewis DVorkin used to work as an editor. DVorkin will become Forbes' chief product officer, which is a great move for a company that's needed a smart, cutting-edge digital media strategy they've lacked in the past that's lead to their rivals as well as smaller, newer operations lapping what was once one of the most important names on finance journalism's must-read list. As for True/Slant, however, the press release makes no indication of who from T/S - be they full time staffers, or one of the site's legion contributors whose writing T/S used to become the success story it now is - will be proceeding with DVorkin to Forbes. In fact, the release gives absolutely no indication of what's going to happen to True/Slant, the possibilities of which include being folded into Forbes, remaining running as a re-managed and overhauled operation with greater resources available to it, or simply shutting down. Which would suck.
For one thing, the ideas, motivations, and ambitions True/Slant started out with - to become one of the few places where writers can make money - would be tossed out the door with the operation. For another, Forbes has an incredible opportunity (and the money) to further this mission, and True/Slant's awesomely diverse slate of writers (sans Matt Taibbi now, though) would be for naught. This note to them, from DVorkin's T/S post on the matter, doesn't bode well for their fates:
We will always be grateful for your pioneering spirit, dedication and professionalism. As True/Slant transitions, some of you may be interested in moving with us to Forbes. We look forward to discussing the possibilities with you.
And for another, it's the same old shit: It appears on the surface as an "acquisition" that really only intends to purchase DVorkin for a job, and nothing more. Furthermore, some of the language DVorkin used on his post...
The goal: to work together to further develop a mindset around the power of the Web and traditional news values.
...sounds less like a guy with a revolutionary news outlet, and more like a guy who just suited up for corporate.
As of this post, we haven't contacted T/S on the matter. We're gonna give them a call for quote and see if we can figure out the fate of the network and some of its writers as T/S and DVorkin moves forward.