Read, a former editor-in-chief of Gawker, examines the rise and fall of the polarizing site.
A former Gawker staffer investigates “how a media company founded on whistleblowing and radical transparency failed its female employees.”
A discussion of the future of Gawker Media. Employees recently voted to unionize—”the first at a major digital media company” to do so—and a $100 million lawsuit from Hulk Hogan is looming over the company.
The media entrepreneur’s vision for the future of content and journalism:
DENTON: The Panopticon—the prison in which everybody is exposed to scrutiny all the time. Do you remember the website Fucked Company? It was big in about 2000, 2001. I was CEO of Moreover Technologies at the time. A saleswoman put in an anonymous report to the site about my having paid for the eye operation of a young male executive I had the hots for. The story, like many stories, was roughly half true. Yes, there was a young male executive. Yes, he did have an eye operation. No, it wasn’t paid for by me. It was paid for by the company’s health insurance according to normal procedure. And no, I didn’t fancy him; I detested him. It’s such a great example of Fucked Company and, by extension, most internet discussion systems. There’s some real truth that gets told that is never of a scale to warrant mainstream media attention, and there’s also no mechanism for fact-checking, no mechanism to actually converge on some real truth. It’s out there. Half of it’s right. Half of it’s wrong. You don’t know which half is which. What if we could develop a system for collaboratively reaching the truth? Sources and subjects and writers and editors and readers and casual armchair experts asking questions and answering them, with follow-ups and rebuttals. What if we could actually have a journalistic process that didn’t require paid journalists and tape recorders and the cost of a traditional journalistic operation? You could actually uncover everything—every abusive executive, every corrupt eye operation.
Gawker Media’s big company-wide redesign, a year in the making, will finally come out of beta on January 3. It will the biggest event in Gawker Media history, for all three arms of the company—editorial, sales, and technology. It’s a concerted attempt for Nick Denton’s Gawker Media to stop being a blog network and start being something much more ambitious. And while that will be most immediately visible in the way that the blogs look, a massive change is taking place on the sales side, too: Chris Batty, Gawker Media’s semi-legendary head of sales, is leaving the company.
Maria Bustillos | Columbia Journalism Review | February 2018 |2900 words (12 minutes)
The Honolulu Advertiser doesn’t exist anymore, but it used to publish a regular “Health Bureau Statistics” column in its back pages supplied with information from the Hawaii Department of Health detailing births, deaths, and other events. The paper, which began in 1856 as the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, since the end of World War II was merged, bought, sold, and then merged again with its local rival, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, to become in 2010 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. But the Advertiser archive is still preserved on microfilm in the Honolulu State Library. Who could have guessed, when those reels were made, that the record of a tiny birth announcement would one day become a matter of national consequence? But there, on page B-6 of the August 13, 1961 edition of The Sunday Advertiser, set next to classified listings for carpenters and floor waxers, are two lines of agate type announcing that on August 4, a son had been born to Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama of 6085 Kalanianaole Highway.
In the absence of this impossible-to-fudge bit of plastic film, it would have been far easier for the so-called birther movement to persuade more Americans that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. But that little roll of microfilm was and is still there, ready to be threaded on a reel and examined in the basement of the Honolulu State Library: An unfalsifiable record of “Births, Marriages, Deaths,” which immeasurably fortified the Hawaii government’s assertions regarding Obama’s original birth certificate. “We don’t destroy vital records,” Hawaii Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo says. “That’s our whole job, to maintain and retain vital records.” Read more…
David Obuchowski | The Awl and Longreads | January 2018 | 34 minutes (8,481 words)
Our latest feature is a new story by David Obuchowski and produced in partnership with The Awl.
“When I first met him the only thing I really remember is that he looked familiar to me,” cinematographer Tom Richmond told me about Keith Gordon, the director and former actor. “We would walk down the street…and people would recognize him all the time,” said Bob Weide, an executive producer, writer, director and one of Gordon’s oldest friends. “He has one of those faces where it would be, ‘Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but don’t I know you?’ …Keith would always give them the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘Um, I don’t know. Do we know each other?’ They’d say, “Did you go to Brandeis?’ And Keith would say, ‘No, no, no, I didn’t.’ …They’d say, ‘Wait a minute, did you grow up in Sacramento?’”
“You know what it’s like, when you see him from that time,” recalled Gordon’s wife, Rachel Griffin, a film producer and former actress. “He looked like somebody you knew.” And it was often true, sort of: many people know what he looked like in the mid 1980s, because Gordon had been a very visible, successful actor in teen comedies and thrillers.
“They would rarely say, ‘Oh my god, you’re the guy in Christine, or you’re the guy in Dressed to Kill or whatever,” Weide said. “Sometimes I would actually just jump in and say, ‘He’s an actor, you’ve probably just seen him in one of his films.’ …It was just really painful for him. People thought they knew him, but he was always way too embarrassed or humble to say ‘I’m an actor, maybe you’ve seen one of my movies’.”
Maybe you have seen one of his movies, and not just one he’s starred in. Gordon has directed five feature films, as well as some of the most prestigious of prestige television, including but not even remotely limited to “Fargo,” “The Leftovers,” and “Homeland.” Read more…