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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Behind the Scenes of Gawker Media

Johnny Haeusler of Germany’s “#2 blog” Spreeblick pointed to an older post of his, in which he describes Gawker Media’s philosophy put forward on the Design Engaged conference (my translation):

Gawker’s resolute Gaby Darbyshire disillusioned all participants who still believed the Gawker blogs (Gizmodo, Fleshbot, Screenhead etc.) were indeed blogs. Darbyshire repeatedly emphasized that Gawker was not a blog publisher, but a classical publishing house with a stricly commercial focus. Authors get a base salary and a share for extreme traffic peaks, but they won’t get to know the total revenue. Before the authors start their “real” blogging, they’re tested offline for 3 months, and they need to deliver posts at a rate of 12 per day... and those who can’t keep up will be replaced, as simple as that.

You can partly see this from the way Gawker emphasizes the blog brand, and not the blogger. Go to Valleywag, and you won’t find Nick Douglas “signing” his posts. Instead, he’s only mentioned as editor of the “Valleywag team” on the left side. And yet I believe he’s the one writing all the posts. De-emphasizing the author, of course, makes transitions from one writer to the next as easy as possible and keeps down costs (because writers can’t claim exorbitant payrolls). That’s the theory, though I doubt a writer like Nick Douglas, for example, will be easy to replace due to his unique writing style.

But making money isn’t opposed to good blogging – judging Gawker from the results (of Lifehacker, Fleshbot and Valleywag and others) they’re doing a great job. On average I think they’re doing a much better job than say Weblogs, Inc., which focuses on quantity (and heavy cross-linking) over quality.


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