NEWS BRIEF Gawker.com, the news-gossip website that its best showcased the potential of independent online media and at its worst outed public and semi-public figures and purveyed the kind of snark seen in online comments sections, announced Thursday it will cease operations next week. The news comes days after Univision announced it was buying Gawker Media, the website’s parent company and six affiliated websites, for $135 million, and months after Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire investor, revealed that he financed a lawsuit that ultimately bankrupted Gawker Media and its founder, Nick Denton.
The news was announced in a blog post by J.K. Trotter, a Gawker writer:
Nick Denton, the company’s outgoing CEO, informed current staffers of the site’s fate on Thursday afternoon, just hours before a bankruptcy court in Manhattan will decide whether to approve Univision’s bid for Gawker Media’s other assets. Staffers will soon be assigned to other editorial roles, either at one of the other six sites or elsewhere within Univision. Near-term plans for Gawker.com’s coverage, as well as the site’s archives, have not yet been finalized.
It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for the media company—and website—that not long ago was being hailed as the future of the media. Gawker.com, the flagship site, could be sharp, funny, incisive, and often broke the kinds of political and tech stories that were the envy of the traditional media landscape. It was the first news site to report that Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor, smoked crack on video, and then raised money online to buy from a source a video that showed Ford’s actions. It published the first expose on Silk Road, the since-shuttered shadowy online marketplace for drugs. It exposed the most toxic commenter on Reddit. (For a partial list of its good stories, go here.) And it also became among the first media online companies whose workers voted to unionize, setting the scene for others to follow.