Gawker Whacker, Part II: Denton Wants Mainstream Appeal
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!
Awww, so sad. After months of posting about the bloodletting around MediadomNYC, I don't suppose it ever occurred to Jesse or Jessica that they could be next.
I hope Nick gave Jesse some extra rent money as a going away gift or SOMEthing - but I hear he's a tightwad with stuff like that.
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