Gawker’s Nick Denton: We hire people who detest bullshit

A memo that Nick Denton sent to the Gawker Media staff last week has — in addition to September traffic stats — a reminder that “conversation is more revealing than what passes for news in newspapers and on television” and that “that conversation should be the story.” Denton adds: “The uninhibited expression of a writer’s mind — the gossip, the revealing anecdote, the politically incorrect analysis, the skepticism about a source’s motives — is our purpose. …We hire people who have a similar detestation of bullshit — and a desire to do work that endures.”

From: Nick Denton
To: [Gawker Media staff]
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 3:42 PM
Subject: Phew

The great thing about journalism: news always comes along.

It seemed for five long months that rule had been suspended.

Here’s a little memo about traffic I sent to Tom and other department heads in June.

Nick Denton

1. Audience stagnation is alarming and unprecedented
2. Particularly a Gizmodo issue — but we don’t know how much to attribute to management, personnel, general dearth of news, stagnation of sectors such as consumer electronics or eclipse of standalone media brands as readers move to Facebook
3. Though it won’t help with immediate traffic problem, focus Gizmodo and Kotaku on their future missions: design and play, independent of consumer electronics and videogame industries
4. To the extent that the problem is the rise of the aggregator, underlines urgency of move to Kinja: premium content does not appear to be a defensible business.
5. In meantime, refocus on the “Gawker exclusive”. Rollout of Kinja discussions, enforcement of editorial participation and lively web chats. And wait and see.

Anyway, we waited. And phew: we’ve had a great run of stories. Gizmodo’s iPhone coverage was exceptional. Gawker scored with royal breasts and (this month) Hulk sex. Jezebel turned the tables on Reddit’s misogynists. A sports star came out for gay rights on Deadspin. And sites made powerful use of Kinja and their readers in developing collections such as Jalopnik’s guide to the coolest car factories and Kotaku’s survey of sunsets in videogames.

Each site hit target in September. The group audience is at an all-time high — 41.9m worldwide in the last 30 days. And we have the first indication that Kinja will get us back to that high water mark next year and leave it behind.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a recapitulation of the Purpose of Gawker.

But if that’s too much mission statement for you, September’s top stories carry the same message.

* Earlier: Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan speaks the unvarnished – and sometimes, mean – truth (