Gawker Moves Hint At Ad Downturn

    July 3, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

An assortment of personnel moves and the dumping of a pair of poorly performing blogs under the Gawker Media umbrella will take place for a series of reasons, the first being a fear of an advertising downturn.

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton posted the news that a pair of blogs, Sploid and Screenhead, will be sold.

“The Gawker formula, of geeky obsessiveness, wasn’t appropriate to these titles,” Denton wrote. “Some other owner may make better use of them.” He noted Sploid draws 900,000 page views per month, while Screenhead gets 500,000.

While those numbers would look good to most bloggers, Denton noted the turned-around gaming blog Kotaku picks up five million page views per month.

It’s the potential for advertising to suddenly dry up that Denton listed first among his reasons for giving the two blogs the boot as well as the shuffling of editors at other blogs. From the post:

First, advertising is a fickle thing. Particularly the entertainment advertising upon which so many websites depend. A change in the advertising industry’s conventional wisdom, cutbacks by the studios: it wouldn’t take much to prick the current exuberance. Better to sober up now, before the end of the party.

He also commented on the variety of personnel changes, which sees editors from Gawker, Gizmodo, and Wonkette departing:

Over time, on the same beat, all journalists get into a routine, or too close to sources, or go native. For Gawker titles, which have always sought to take the outsider’s perspective, this is a particular risk. We need always to be open to fresh editorial talent, even if that means wrenching changes.

One change, the departure of David Lat from Wonkette, was initiated by Lat. He will work for a former Denton protege, Elizabeth Spiers, who owns the Dealbreaker blog.

While Denton cited fears of an advertising downturn as partial motivation for the changes, he also noted increasing expenses in running the business. He describes the pay scale for editors as being “within the range” of mainstream media.

That may be a surprise to Nick Douglas, the blogger behind Valleywag, Denton’s Silicon Valley gossip site. A BusinessWeek report cited Douglas’ contract as paying him $550 a month plus expenses; we hope he’s getting a taste of that ad revenue as well.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.