A surprising number of people seem to care that there’s a bunch of turnover
going on at Gawker: the
latest departures have made both the Observer
and the NYT
today. That very fact proves Gawker’s continuing media-goldfish-bowl relevance:
it’s unthinkable that the equivalent news would ever get this kind of coverage
were editors to have left any of the other thirteen Gawker Media blogs, despite
the fact that Gawker gets just 6.6% of all Gawker Media’s pageviews in a good
There are two competing stories about the Gawker departures, only one of which
is being told. The first, which is true, is that working for Gawker can be a
experience. But there’s a second story, which is also true. Gawker boss
Nick Denton has never made any secret of the fact that he lives for growth in
pageviews. When a site has growing pageviews, everybody working for that site
tends to be very happy. When a site has stagnating pageviews, people working
for that site tend to be rather unhappy. And in November, Gawker’s 8,993,124
pageviews represented the site’s worst showing of the year.
So now Gawker’s looking
for new blood, and especially someone who can turn the franchise around.
"This change of the guard does give us the opportunity to accelerate the
transformation of Gawker from cute blog to fully-fledged news site," Denton
told the NYT, and that makes sense, because the old strategy of accelerating
pageviews by concentrating on the social-media aspects of commenting only served
to turn Gawker into an increasingly-hermetic club with a steadily declining
number of unique visitors.
On the other hand, if the transformation into a news site doesn’t work –
and by work, I mean result in increased pageviews – the new editor might
not last long. It’s possible to stay within the Gawker fold while overseeing
declining traffic, as Mark Lisanti has proved at Defamer.
But it’s a bit like being the CEO of a company with a steadily-falling share
price. Sooner or later, you’re likely to find yourself wanting to move on to