Remember last summer, when we had a grand old time with Gawker Whacker, reporting on the removal of the
media pop culture site's editor Jesse Oxfeld (whose exit was quickly followed with Jessica Coen's departure)? Now it's time for another round of fun at Nick Denton's expense. Turns out, it's often not the wisest decision to hire the guy who started a blog for the sole purpose of getting your attention.
His name is Chris Mohney, and up until recently (yesterday?), he was Gawker.com's managing editor. He started with Denton at the helm of Gridskipper, where he was hired after writing Gawkerist — an all-things-meta blog that was considered almost relevant before everyone and their step-mom tried their hand at viral videos on YouTube.
But as Daily Intel – now edited by Oxfeld himself – reports, Mohney is no longer. He's been unable to increase Gawker's traffic, which has a tendency to get Denton punching away furiously at his Hiptop and screaming at his trainer. More interesting than Mohney's unceremonious exit (and who didn't call that one?) is his replacement: Choire Sicha, the second editor of Gawker and, according to an informal survey we just conducted with our coffee mug and iPod, the editor many readers considered their favorite.
Sicha – who's been unhappily toiling away at the New York Observer while performing pick up jobs like blogging for Out magazine's Out 100 party – is, we're sure, more than thrilled to come on board and show those two new girls how it's done.
Update: Chris says goodbye, manages to squeeze in a "thanks" for Denton and Lockhart Steele.
Update 2: Mohney not canned? Jossip no longer interested.
What's notable about Radar's website resurrection isn't that Maer Roshan is heavily vested in ensuring you know he still exists, but that Gawker is covering it. Asks the trickle of emails this morning already destined for the Trash Bin: Isn't that fired editor Jesse Oxfeld's territory?
Popping up in yesterday's Times Corrections:
The David Carr column in Business Day last Monday about cost cuts at Gawker Media, a blogging company, erroneously included a Web site on a list of sites where editors were moved to new jobs or replaced on June 30. The changes occurred at Gawker.com, Gizmodo.com, and Gridskipper.com; no editors were moved or replaced at Wonkette.
Or, if you've been following this story, you read that as: Nick Denton's insinuation that he got rid of Wonkette's David Lat as part of his restructuring is a steaming pile of shit. Lat left of his own accord and gave notice a month previous. Then he slapped Denton across the face, huddled between Liz Spiers' thighs, and hoped for a brighter tomorrow. Carr, meanwhile, should be bitch slapped himself for eating up Denton's drivel.
Don't think we didn't spot Gatecrasher's footnote over the weekend:
Former Gawker.com editor Jesse Oxfeld will have a desk at Us Weekly from next week on, I hear
Expect the ink to already be drying.
New York Minute [Gatecrasher]
With nearly 1,200 of you crawling to our ballot box, the votes are in from our Gawker Whacker poll. With Nick Denton ousting Jesse Oxfeld and realigning his flagship title to have more mass appeal (and then today giving Gawker.com a pretty makeover), what did you all have to say? For starters, ya'll thought Oxfeld sucks less than Jessica Coen, though Denton seems to be getting all the real sucking action. As for most of you? You've probably already skipped this item.
Earlier: Gawker Whacker, Part IV: Wherein A Fake Oxfeld Hunts For Jobs
Related: All Gawker Whacker coverage
Appearing yesterday evening on Craigslist, a not-so-conspicuous job hunt:
Former blog editor seeks new opportunity
Reply to: XXX@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-07-02, 5:16PM EDT
Editor of Gawker.com, a very popular media blog, seeking a new opportunity. I'm an experienced writer/editor with both Internet and mainstream media experience. Please email me for more info.
So we asked Jesse Oxfeld: Is this yours? "ha. no. not at all. of course not." So it's a hoax? Of course. The real Jesse Oxfeld would only post a for-hire ad on Mediabistro.
Earlier: Gawker Whacker, Part III: Where The Officials Deliver Their Missives
Related: All Gawker Whacker Coverage
So what're you waking up to this morning in the latest round of Gawker Whacker saga? Well there's David Carr's piece in the New York Times, which was posted late last night. Not much to be said about the rolling heads 'round Gawkerville – "putting two of his sites on the block, reorganizing others and laying off several people" was how he put it – with focus instead placed on Denton's new game plan, which is, to be fair, his old game plan: make money by staying current. How very Madonna. The best part of Carr's item: all-Denton, all the time, and nary an outside source — or even pretending he spoke to one. And blogs are skewed.
Elsewhere, Gawker managing editor Lockhart Steele sent out a missive to staffers, which reads in part:
More than anything, I think the moves are driven by our belief that Gawker needs to remain in a state of constant revolution. Resting on our laurels, and getting lazy, becomes easier as the company matures. Yet, so many of our titles are still in their infancy in terms of what their potential audience size, impact, and editorial could be. Look at our biggest traffic sites -- Gizmodo, Gawker, Fleshbot, Defamer, Kotaku, Deadspin, Lifehacker, just for starters. Each amazing in its own way. And each capable of being two, five, ten times bigger than it is now -- not just in traffic, but in influence, buzz, and significance. I'm also excited by the buzz around some of our newer titles, like Consumerist, and some ideas we have for new sites. [...]
Regarding Screenhead and Sploid: both sites have been among our favorites, and the bloggers behind them true pros. But if we're to keep our focus, we need discipline to invest more in our hits, cultivate our smaller sites with rising buzz, and develop new titles, like our forthcoming music title. And, yes, part ways with a site when it's not working out for us.
To be clear, by "focus" Lock means "minting cash like a bankrupt Argentina."Meanwhile, Denton will be posting his own Dear John Letter on his blog, which will read in part:
[I]t's easy enough to start a site; increasingly tough to attract attention. Readers tend to give new Gawker sites an initial look at the very least, and we do cross-promote. But each site ultimately stands alone, and succeeds on the uniqueness of its proposition and the quality of the items. There are no sure things.
And back on the Lower East Side, Jessica Coen starts up her first week in quite sometime without Movable Type neighbor Oxfeld. As for the notion that the site is going more mainstream, we understand "broader" is the buzz word. So when a New York Daily News features editor gets whacked, you're going to have to look somewhere else to read about it.
Lastly, let's not forget about our favorite feature, the Gawker Whacker poll.
A Blog Mogul Turns Bearish on Blogs [David Carr, NYT]
Shakeup At Gawker Media: Jesse Oxfeld Out; Shuffle Across Blogs; Two Properties Up For Sale [Rachel Sklar, ETP]
With all the news we're breaking about Jesse Oxfeld's ousting from Gawker, we thought it would only be fair to ask for your reaction. Like guests on Meet The Press, the options are few and obvious.
If you haven't a clue what any of this is about, perhaps you should read Part I and Part II of our Gawker Whacker coverage. Briefly: Gawker boss Nick Denton got rid of editor Oxfeld, but is keeping Jessica Coen on staff. Meanwhile, he's bringing on two new guys to recast the flagship title as a mainstream entertainment destination.
Because when you begin chatting about the chattering classes, the flood gates of gossip open — which means we've already received our fair share of updates regarding Jesse Oxfeld's ousting at Gawker and Nick Denton's additional slashings. As you recall from our exclusive report earlier today, Gawker honcho Denton dismissed Oxfeld without warning on Friday. Denton, we're told is also going to close two of his titles: Screenhead (made extinct by YouTube) and Sploid (while sporting some impressive CSS, was made extinct by news junkies' continued preference for The Drudge Report and, well, YouTube).
So why is all this happening? Because Denton – who has long touted Gawker's media insider vantage point – wants to take his flagship title more mainstream (read: mainstream = more pageviews = more ad dollars). And that means there's no place for Oxfeld's endless Radar magazine updates and masthead shake up chronicling. Instead, Gawker needs new blood: enter TMFTML/Alex Balk and Gridskipper's Chris Mohney. But while Balk is taking over what's technically Oxfeld's empty Aeron, the real news is Mohney's role: top dog.
After two-plus years helming Gawker, co-editor Jessica Coen is getting a new superior to answer to. In additon to managing editor Lockhart Steele breathing down her neck, newcomer Mohney will techically be Jessica's overseer. And you can imagine how pleased she is with that back stab. (Surely Jessica squelches her tears with hosting duties for the Star channel's Looking For Stars.)
As for readers, they can likely expect an Us Weekly-ization of Gawker, sans bright yellow serif fonts. (Whether Denton will remake Mark Lisanti's Defamer as a bland Hollywood gossip sheet instead of insider studio rag is yet to be determined.)
Now, when it comes to closing Screenhead and Sploid, Denton is looking for a buyer before he's ready to shut them down. But there's a short timeline: one month. If a cheque isn't endorsed by the end of the July, both sites will go under. And so, too, will their staff: "Dong Resin" at Screenhead and Sploid's Ken Layne and Scott Ross will be out of work. And that's not all of Denton's pink slipping: Gizmodo's John Biggs – who joined Denton's stable in April 2005 after founding editor Peter Rojas defected for a future windfall at rival Engadget – is being shown the door as well. (Blogebrity says someone from Wired will be filling in.)
It's also worth noting Oxfeld is the first of Gawker's four editors to leave involuntarily. So what'd Jesse have to say about all the new revelations? "Your account is inaccurate, reckless, and defamatory. I was at most moderately hammered when I arrived at the Magician Friday night." And he has been all weekend.
And remember, there's something to look forward to tomorrow: the New York Times will have its own item about all this.
Update: Nikki Finke weighs in on her favorite email sparring partner. From her item we learn David Carr is penning the piece (where, oh where, is Kit Seelye's byline where it should be?), though if that's true, perhaps Carr should actually touch base with Oxfeld.
Bonus: Now you can vote!
In the hum-drum purr of industry hirings and firings, the rise and fall of beauty editors, research associates, and even senior editors can never compare to tingling we get when it's a media reporter finding a new home. Or, as it so happens in this story, when it's a media reporter in the guillotine.
Sometime Friday, Gawker co-editor Jesse Oxfeld was informed he was no longer welcome at Nick Denton's Movable Type login screen. That's right: Oxfeld's out. Finished. Kaput. His axing came as a complete surprise to the Brill's Content-Editor & Publisher-Mediabistro vet, who, we hear, showed up "completely hammered" at The Magician on Friday night, where the typical blogger suspects (Liz Spiers, Lindsay Robertson) were gathered, to drown his sorrows. Like Bonnie Fuller, Oxfeld's contract was up at the end of June — except his wasn't resigned with a fat bonus.
Jessica Coen, meanwhile, stays on and will be joined on Monday by the editor of Denton's travel title Gridskipper, Chris Mohney – who infamously got his job by fellating Denton with Gawker-obsessed blog Gawkerist – and former anon-a-blogger Alex Balk (aka TMFTML).
Meanwhile, Denton is also said to be closing two titles from his blog stable: College Humor wannabe Screenhead and Drudge Report imitator Sploid — though we're not sure if Screenhead editor "Dong Resin" or Sploid's Ken Layne are gone too, or they'll be absorbed into Gawker's many folds. These would be the second and third blogs Denton closed, following gambling site Oddjack's sale months ago.
And for those who don't believe anything till you read it in the Times, look for an item on Monday. The only mystery yet unsolved: How Andrew Krucoff's name didn't come up in any of this.
Update: The story continues here.
Bonus: Now you can vote!