When Wired profiled Gawker Media founder Nick Denton in June 2004, we explained how he was strategically deploying “Movable Type, sexual prurience, and relentless snarkiness to draw enough of a crowd to lure advertisers.” That was back when Gawker consisted of just four blogs. Now there are 14. We caught up with Denton via IM.
You’re unusually public with your traffic data. Why?
It’s the most objective measure of a site’s appeal, a writer’s skill, and a story’s resonance. We want to rub those numbers in our faces.
Gawker seems to be a revolving door for writers and editors.
Writing for a popular blog is indeed incredibly demanding. But way more depressing: the tedium of an easy life and the obscurity of a position in a big media company.
You recently hired yourself as editor of your flagship blog, Gawker.com.
Just when I think I’ve escaped to the elevated heights of moguldom, I get sent back to the gossip mill.
You pay writers based on the traffic they generate. What’s the secret to a successful blog post?
There’s no hard and fast rule for what drives pageviews. Unusual stories. Exclusive items. Lists. Email exchanges and documents. And yes, celebrity boobies. Here’s what’s changed: There used to be a shortage of attitude and aggregation, but there are now thousands of highly trafficked blogs. There’s a huge media ecosystem hungrily searching for anything original. The economics have changed.
What’s the next good target?
On the rare occasions I ponder my legacy, I think I should set up gossip sites to cover countries like Russia and China. To foment revolution, with a drip-drip of snarky stories about corruption. And then I remember that Putin reportedly has people killed.
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