Final Spasm of Autofellatio

I promise to return to this blog soon, or maybe later than soon, but not quite never. In the meantime, you can read this little ditty of closure about the Gawkerist non-saga. Names are named! But you knew all those names already, because some of them are yours.


Where I'm Blogging From

It's a beautiful day to not go to work. Or rather, to work at home, untroubled by human contact or the demands of hygiene. As of today, I start my new regular gig as editor of Gridskipper, replacing the rotating lineup of guest editors with my permanently gorgeous presence. It's sort of like taking up perpetual residence in a transient motel, or marrying the sluttiest girl from high school. I mean, it's been months, and I still can't get that Krucoff stank out of the upholstery. Feel free to drop by and/or contribute your super-cool city travel advice to tips@gridskipper.com. Just slide the tips under the door and leave, as I cannot greet you. The lights and noise of your surface world confuse me.


Still Alive, or Merely Twitching?

Why am I the last to know that this blog has been forcibly shut down? And where is my fetching sidebar cartoon likeness, I ask you? I'm quite pleased to get lumped in with TMFTML and Washingtonienne of course, though I'm afraid I decrease both the talent and zipless-fuck average of the trio.

I shouldn't quibble about being forcibly shut down, as distraction and laziness could be legitimately considered forces, and they have certainly strangulated posting here and elsewhere to a wheeze. My excuses include transitioning to a new vocation and finishing up a swarm of minor assignments. Next week: big changes and sweaty announcements, I promise you. The master plan is still intact and percolating toward yet another startling anticlimax. Be there/here!


That Horse Ain't Dead Yet

After Krucoff. (Really, when are we not after Krucoff?)

Disclaimer: Elizabeth Spiers was the founding editor of Gawker.com, then later a reporter for New York magazine, and is currently the editor-in-chief of mediabistro, of which current Gawker co-editor Jesse Oxfeld was previously the editor-in-chief, before which he worked at Inside.com, which was co-founded by Kurt Andersen, former editor of New York magazine, currently edited by Adam Moss, a former editor at the New York Times, which occasionally ran articles by Christian Moerk, current contributing writer to mediabistro's fishbowlNY, currently co-edited by Rachel Sklar (who also has contributed to the New York Times [and who may have gone on a date-date or two with Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings (who recently guest-edited Gawker "incognito")]) and Elizabeth Spiers, still as of this point in the disclaimer the editor-in-chief of mediabistro, which runs frequent contributions from Greg Lindsay, previously a media writer for Inside.com, who incidentally once wrote a very bad and naughty and distorted article for Business 2.0 about Nick Denton (a perfect gentleman), then served as guest editor on both Gawker and Gridskipper.*

*Disclaimer: The writer of the above disclaimer, Chris Mohney, previously of Gawkerist, has also served as a guest editor for Gridskipper, guest-edited this week by Will Leitch, co-founder of The Black Table, which has in the past published contributions by Sklar and Mohney, at least. [Continued on reverse side.]


The Hotvolution of Wonkette

Nice redesign. And much love to T. Colon and the police sketch artist at the WSJ, but I think the new portrait really captures that sumptuous collarbone, teasingly bare shoulder, and succulent orange lips. Mmmm.

What, this is all I got after two weeks off? Stay tuned. Developments afoot. More later, maybe more sooner.


Nick Denton Finally Pays Us to Stop Blogging

In the spirit of delaying announcements until the Friday afternoon before a holiday when everyone's already out of town or well into their third gimlet: Prepare to have all of your fantastic expectations thoroughly undercut by dull, banal reality. Allow us to introduce myself. (Goodbye accursed first-person plural, and good riddance.)

The name is Chris Mohney, aka Gawkerist no more. Or at least anonymous no more. Chances are you have never heard of me or the dreary and pedestrian blog I've written with fair regularity for the past year and change. I'm mostly a travel writer. But recently, what I've spent more time doing than anything else is gently and chastely pressing myself against the scrubbed windows of various New York publishing houses, mewling for entry, until a pitiless, armored human resources droid escorts me to the edge of the publisher's property and chews my resume to pieces right before my eyes.

This kind of existence wears a man down. So, about a month ago, I decided to try something stupid, which, obviously, became Gawkerist. I won't bore you (without an advance check) about all the details that went into constructing this blog, but rest assured it was more deliberate than it may seem. Well, maybe slightly more deliberate. But there were twists, and turns, and drama, even a car chase and a knife fight and a series of exploding warehouses. It's all there in the roman a clef I'm currently shopping around on the back of a Cafe Press t-shirt. Are you listening, David Kuhn?

Anyway, I was never in the pay or confidence of Nick Denton or Lockhart Steele or anyone else at GM, nor was I the secret alter ego of many more well known and glamorous figures. (Sorry, AK ... Gage should sue you for defamation.) Many correctly guessed that Gawkerist was a stunt to attract attention and finagle work through nontraditional channels. What I didn't necessarily expect was that the first people to guess this (on day 2 actually) would be everyone at Gawker Media.

Fortunately for me, their acute self-knowledge was no defense against assaultive flattery by way of meticulous attention, and as a result, I'll be lashing myself to the mast of Gridskipper next week. Drop by, won't you. I may still post here occasionally, but now that I've sold out, I've lost all credibility that I earned through three weeks of intermittent labor as an anonymous nobody blogger with an extremely narrow focus. I'll just have to console myself with better tequila.

Not GM-Related .. or IS IT?

Most excellent. Best conversation we've had all week. What joins us all together in this group project is not just an abiding interest in the subject matter (us), but a heartfelt joy in watching Krucoff suffer. He could bring out the gleeful sadist in an unmolested choirboy -- and no one loves it more than Krucoff himself, who's the first genuinely devoted automasochist we've ever encountered. He exhausted us with close to 200 emails in that first week alone, confirming and denying (often simultaneously) that were Sac, Chris Gage, Lockhart Steele, TMFTML, or a combination of these, and/or in their employ, individually and/or severally, and of course, factotums (factotae?) of Denton. All true of course. Every word. Fortunately, there is some evidence that Krucoff does physically exist, and for that we're grateful. If he didn't, we'd have to invent him inventing us. Like they say in Vermont, "Freedom and Unity." We'll spend our holiday minding the store and holding down the #7 slot in the quality rankings. Eat that, Margaret Cho.


Lies, the Damned LIE, and the LIRR

We're looking forward to a wonderfully gray and cold Memorial Day weekend not spent in the Hamptons, nor will we be interested in seeing what goes on out there, Mr. Binn. However, other than trudging through the hateful new advertisements hatching like vicious tapeworms in GM's RSS feeds, all is quiet in Dentonspace today, which means we must regretfully spend a few moments attending to real-life concerns such as food, shelter, and fighting to expose the biggest music theft and mystery in history. But just a note about those Hamptons. We actually enjoy Nikola Tamindzic's photo work on Gawker's Team Party Crash, because Tamindzic makes everyone look like they're creeping around inside a David Fincher movie. But even we were taken aback by this picture from the Hamptons Magazine launch. It appears the young lady is being assaulted by a reanimated cadaver in fashionable denim. The Southampton zombies are no longer satisfied with lobster rolls. Shoot for the brain.


Everything Dumb Is Smart Again

Steven Johnson's book Everything Bad Is Good for You explains what we all intuitively realized in junior high: the stupider you act, the smarter you really are. Johnson's idea of the "sleeper curve" focuses on watching television and playing video games principally, theorizing that what appears to a disinterested observer as pacific zombification is actually high-level mental engagement. Still waters run deep. Johnson and others have extrapolated what this means about the Web and its addicts, with clinical trials underway to prove once and for all that surfing porn all day really does make you sexier. And you only need read any dozen Livejournal entries to agree that extensive blogging makes one a much better writer.

It's a fine thing to build castles in the sky with airy theorems, but we prefer cold, hard, scientifically irrefutable data, for which we turn, as always, to the Internet. Maybe the passive activities Johnson describes really do increase intelligence, but what about real-world achievement? Forget about all those nerdy eggheads playing Grand Theft Auto and watching America's Next Top Model. If you want to get ahead in life, you should read Gawker, because Gawker's audience has enjoyed a dramatically increasing rate of successfully earning college degrees -- with no direct evidence of academic assistance other than reading Gawker.

The general American population's rate of college graduation hovered just under 30% as of 2000. By contrast, according to ad reps Gorilla Nation Media, 58% of Gawker readers hold bachelor's degrees. However, take that information with a grain of salt. After all, they're trying to sell ads, so the last thing they want is to make the demo look too smart. In fact, Nick Denton notes that 71% of Gawker's audience as "at least college education," which could cover a lot of ground we suppose. But for the same of Science, we'll assume he means a bachelor's degree rather than just attending one of Lizzie Grubman's ego festivals at the Learning Annex.

But perhaps even Denton is being too modest (as usual!). One need only to consult with Gawker's advertising FAQ to learn that the rate of college graduation among Gawker readers has risen to a staggering 85%! No wonder there's a shortage of designer cap-and-gown ensembles this season. Why, just the recent spate of Radar coverage earned most readers a double major or fast-track admission to their choice of post-baccalaureate program. We're pleased to mention that these past few weeks of intensive GM study have gotten us well into our second PhD.

We are obligated, however, to point out a hiccup in the research (though we're confident it will be smoothed over in the lab). Gawker's ad page is technically dated December 10, 2002, though we suspect it (and its demographic numbers) might have been updated since then. Denton's own numbers, attributed to reader surveys conducted via the Burst ad network, are dated October 4, 2004. And who knows about the Gorilla Nation figures, though the ad page has a Gawker screenshot dating from April 14, 2005. This might appear to the untrained eye as if the progression was actually a reversal, with fewer college graduates reading Gawker as the audience expanded. To which we can only respond: don't be stupid. The higher number is better, so it must be true. If you can't understand that, you must be a genius.


Filthy Lucre Corrupts Idealistic Blogosphere

In this March interview with Lockhart Steele, certain precious, precious beans were spilled about how GM bloggers are paid. The normally scarce information about internal GM operations was quoted in the recent Times piece and paired with GM traffic data. The info from the Steele interview was sort-of disavowed, but it still lead to further speculation and some fun crazy-town math to figure out just how many kopecks your average GM blogger takes home in comparison to an equivalent MSM journalist.

Leaving aside the creakily outdated concept of paying by the word -- which last worked to a writer's advantage when Dickens serialized A Tale of Two Cities until the French Revolution finally, regrettably, ended -- this is not only a case of comparing crab apples to orange smoothies. It ignores the far more interesting possibilities presented by GM's new bonus system, where bloggers get access to a "bonus bank" of extra cash if they generate increased traffic. The bonus system was teasingly described by Steele and others in OJR, where Joel Johnson of Gizmodo allowed that the pay was was fair, but he still grumped, "I'd rather be writing than learning how to trick Google."

A better strategy would be learning how to trick bloggers -- especially other GM bloggers. You've already got audience overlap, reader interest, familiarity with the product family ... it's a potential traffic goldmine. Sure, there are already copious GM incest links in the sidebar, but who looks at the sidebars, unless you're checking out the latest American Apparel softcore model? Cadge a link in one of the regular listicle features ("Remainders" etc.), or even better, inside a regular post. Target their interests. Gizmodo and Kotaku were all over each other for the recent E3 electronic gaming convention, and naturally so. Gawker and Defamer regularly swap spit for the bicoastal celebs they tend to "share." There's no reason that the second-stringers shouldn't start preying upon their more corpulent sibling blogs, cleaving off little slices of traffic that the more popular sites won't miss, but which the up-and-comers can quickly bank, withdraw, and spend. Jalopnik needs to focus on Paris Hilton's skankmobile. Screenhead should employ Sidekick hackers to steal and publish link dumps from Maer Roshan. An enterprising Lifehacker should undergo Scientology "clearing" sessions with the stated goal to "be more like Tom Cruise."

And once the incentive system is itself incentivized, it's merely a short and briskly easy step into the wonderful world of payola. Want to scam a link in the next "More Good from Gawker" on Gizmodo? Ten percent sounds like a reasonable "finder's fee" for tossing a little geek traffic your way. Cash please. No, don't pay us, pay the blog! If things really get desperate, GM bloggers should consider purchasing advertising on other GM blogs. How could Nick Denton say no? The minimum ad buy is a little steep at $500-$750, but text links start at $150 for a week. According to GM's text-link hawker AdBrite, a $200 text link on Gizmodo buys access to an average daily site traffic of over 200,000 pageviews -- a cool million for the week. Of course, you can get access to almost as much traffic for $50 less at Fleshbot, and the click average is four times greater. More bang for the buck in all kinds of ways.

As the incentive system adjusts to compensate for increased traffic and demands that those levels be sustained, the pressure will increase. Eventually, GM bloggers will be forced to keep withdrawing from their bonus bank in order to subsidize kickbacks, ad campaigns, and guerrilla marketing initiatives. Denton will replace the regular paycheck with "Gawker Dollars" scrip redeemable only in the GM company store, which stocks nothing but vodka, intern chow, Condé Nast publications, T-Mobile Whenever Minutes, and a 24-hour brunch menu. All because a few greedy bloggers couldn't be satisfied with $2500 a month.