Definitions

gawker

Gawker.com

Gawker.com is a blog based in New York City that bills itself as "The source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip" and focuses on celebrities and the media industry.

Founded in 2002, Gawker is the flagship blog for Nick Denton's Gawker Media; They spawned other blogs including Wonkette, covering Washington, D.C., Defamer, covering Los Angeles, and Valleywag covering Silicon Valley.

Editors

Gawker was originally edited by Elizabeth Spiers, then by Choire Sicha, from August 2003 to August 2004. When Sicha became editorial director of Gawker Media in August, 2004, Jessica Coen was hired to be the site editor. The editor position was split between two co-editors in 2005, and Coen was joined by guest editors from a variety of New York City-based blogs; Matt Haber was engaged as co-editor for several months, then Jesse Oxfeld joined for longer. In July, 2006, Oxfeld's contract was not renewed, and Alex Balk was installed, while Chris Mohney, formerly of Gridskipper, Gawker Media's travel blog, was hired to become the managing editor, a newly created position.

In the September 26, 2005 issue, New York Magazine reported Coen's salary as $30,000, a number denied in a post on Gawker.

On September 28, 2006, Coen announced in a post on Gawker that she would be leaving the site to become deputy online editor at Vanity Fair. Balk then shared the site with co-editor Emily Gould. Associate editor Maggie Shnayerson also began writing for the site; she replaced Doree Shafrir, who left in September 2007 for the New York Observer.

In February 2007, Sicha returned from his position at The New York Observer, and replaced Mohney as the Managing Editor.

On September 21, 2007, Gawker announced that Balk would depart to edit Radar magazine's website, he will be replaced by Wonkette's Alex Pareene.

On November 30, 2007, managing editor Choire Sicha and editor Emily Gould announced at the end of a post on the site that they were quitting. Another editor, Joshua David Stein, quit later that day.

The literary journal n+1 had published a long piece on the history and future of Gawker, which concluded: "You could say that as Gawker Media grew, from Gawker’s success, Gawker outlived the conditions for its existence.

On January 2, 2008, after the departure of Sicha, Gould, and Stein, Nick Denton, the owner of Gawker Media, Gawker's parent corporation, announced that he was installing himself as the Managing Editor of Gawker. As of January 5, 2008, most of his editorial decisions (including the firing of a columnist) have been met with substantial negative comments on the site from the readership. Some long-time commenters even departed the site with the change in leadership, dissatisfied with the current way the site is run and the quality of the postings.

Content

Gawker usually publishes more than 50 posts daily during the week, sometimes reaching 70 posts a day, with limited publishing on the weekends. The site also publishes content from its sister sites. Gawker's content consists of celebrity and media industry gossip, critiques of mainstream news outlets and New York-centric stories. The stories generally come from anonymous tips from media employees, found mistakes and faux pas in news stories caught by readers and other blogs, and original reporting.

On July 3, 2006, when publisher Nick Denton replaced Jesse Oxfeld with Alex Balk, Oxfeld claimed it was an attempt to make the blog more mainstream and less media-focused, ending a tradition of heavy media coverage at Gawker.

Gawker Stalker

On March 14, 2006, Gawker.com launched Gawker Stalker Maps, a mashup of the site's Gawker Stalker feature and Google Maps. Gawker Stalker, originally a weekly roundup of celebrity sightings in New York City submitted by Gawker readers, first posted on April 21, 2003, is now frequently updated, and the sightings are displayed on a map.

The feature has drawn criticism from celebrities and publicists for encouraging stalking, and George Clooney rep Stan Rosenfeld called Gawker Stalker "a dangerous thing." Jessica Coen has said that the map is harmless, that Gawker readers are "for the most part, a very educated, well-meaning bunch," and that "if there is someone really intending to do a celebrity harm, there are much better ways to go about doing that than looking at the Gawker Stalker."

Viacom Freelancer Rights

Gawker's coverage of benefit cuts announced December 4, 2007 for freelancers working at media company Viacom has been acknowledged as playing a major role in reinstating many of the workers' rights. After Viacom "permalancers" took to the streets for several days to protest the cuts, Gawker reported on December 12, 2007 that the company had reversed its position. On January 31, 2008, Gawker's Maggie Shnayerson reported that Viacom subsidiary MTV Networks would convert 1,000 freelance jobs to full-time positions.

Tom Cruise Video

On January 15, 2008, Gawker mirrored the Scientology video featuring Tom Cruise from the recently removed posting on YouTube. They soon posted a copyright infringement notice written by lawyers for Scientology. As of July 21, 2008, the video has not been removed and a lawsuit has not been filed.

Sarah Palin Email leak

On September 17, 2008, Gawker published screenshots of emails from the personal email account of Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Unauthorized access to personal email accounts is a federal crime, however the perpetrators may only be prosecuted for reading 'unopened' emails due to DOJ interpretation of the decision in Theofel v. Farey-Jones FBI Spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage, Alaska confirms that an investigation is underway.

References

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