Monday, June 13, 2016

Report: Gawker Changed Digital Media

Whatever's next for Gawker Media, it's tone of snarky, no-holds-barred style of journalism has impacted digital media forever, reports Michelle Castillo of CNBC.

Nick Denton
"Gawker's impact on digital media resonates today when you look at properties like BuzzFeed," said Rebecca Lieb, digital media analyst and author. "The really compelling headline, the almost irresistible story because it's a little bit cheeky, it's a little bit snarky. ... It was really one of the first native digital properties to really carve out a language and a voice and a tone that was uniquely suited for the medium."

The Gawker Media Group said Friday that it has agreed to sell its seven media brands and other assets to digital media company Ziff Davis, which is owned by j2 Global. Sources close to Gawker said the opening bid was between $90 million and $100 million.

The company, CEO Nick Denton and former editor A.J. Daulerio have been embroiled in a lengthy invasion-of-privacy legal battle with entertainer and wrestler Hulk Hogan, after its main publication wrote a story about his leaked sex tape. A Florida jury granted Hogan $140 million in damages. Recently, it was revealed that Hogan's legal case has been bankrolled by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.

Peter Thiel
Denton called the trial a "sham" in a statement on Gawker. He alleged that the case was more about Hogan fearing outcry about racist sentiment on the tape than fears over his personal privacy. When it was disclosed that Thiel backed the Hogan lawsuit, Denton said during a CNBC "Squawk Box" interview that it revealed the "true interests" of the legal case.

"It becomes a story about the power of the billionaire class, particularly the power of the billionaire class in Silicon Valley. They have money. They have wealth. They have anonymity. They have special purpose vehicles. They have offshore accounts. ... They are exercising their power from behind the scenes. I think it's more important than ever that there be an independent media to hold them to account," Denton said.

Lieb points out that it will be interesting to see what happens to Gawker once a more traditional publisher takes it over.

"We are encouraged by the agreement with Ziff Davis, one of the most rigorously managed and profitable companies in digital media," Denton said in the statement. "A combination would marry Ziff Davis' strength in e-commerce, licensing and video with GMG's premium media brands."

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