Gawker, after lying dormant for almost five years, has risen from the ashes.
The news and gossip site was relaunched Wednesday under the auspices of Bustle Digital Group, whose founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg bought the assets of Gawker for $1.35 million in a bankruptcy auction in 2018. That came after Gawker’s parent company was driven out of business over a lawsuit filed by wrestler Hulk Hogan.
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The new Gawker — reflecting the original site’s snark — includes sections for “News,” “Politics,” “Celebrity,” “Media” and “Tech” as well as, uh, less standard ones like “Chrissy Teigen,” “NASA,” “Ask a Fuck Up” and “Dogs.”
Current headlines on Gawker include “Do Justin and Hailey Bieber Hate Each Other?”, “Teigen Tales: House Sold for $17 Million” and “Manga-Loving Teens J’Accused of Misusing Government Dollars.”
BDG hired Leah Finnegan, a former Gawker staffer, as the new site’s editor in chief. “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,” Finnegan wrote in the reborn site’s welcome post.
Finnegan said she initially turned down BDG’s offer to run Gawker last year. After the company came back to her 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,” she wrote. “The world was lost in darkness and desperately needed light. Gawker, the cloudy sky whispered. Do Gawker … again.”
Finnegan was Gawker’s features editor from 2014-15, moving on to become executive editor of tech-focused site The Outline, which BDG acquired in 2019 and then shut down last year.
In 2016, Nick Denton’s Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy and sell six of its websites to Univision Communications for $135 million — excluding Gawker.com — after it lost lawsuits funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. (Univision sold those sites, known as Gizmodo Media Group, along with The Onion to a private-equity backed G/O Media.) Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, had been angry about an old Gawker story that reported he was gay. The Thiel-backed litigation included Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker over a video the website posted showing the wrestler having sex with his ex-friend’s wife; a jury awarded Hogan $140 million in damages in the case.
Regarding the new Gawker’s frenetic design, which among things crops off much of the site’s logo on the homepage, Finnegan commented, “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.”
In her post, Finnegan listed Gawker’s current editorial staff: Brandy Jensen (features editor), Jocelyn Silver (managing editor), George Civeris (senior editor), Kelly Conaboy (senior features writer), Jenny G. Zhang (staff features writer), Tarpley Hitt (staff writer), Olivia Craighead (staff writer), Claire Carusillo (contributing writer), Tammie Teclemariam (contributing writer), Allie Jones (contributing writer), Sarah Hagi (contributing writer) and Darcie Wilder (senior social media editor).
Last week, BDG announced the acquisition of Some Spider Studios, the holding company of parenting content brands Scary Mommy, Fatherly and The Dad, in a stock deal said to be worth around $150 million. The Some Spider brands are joining BDG’s portfolio of other sites, which include Bustle, The Zoe Report, Nylon and Elite Daily.
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