by Tolu Orekoya
YNaija has some times been influenced, like plenty across the world, with the tone, chutzpah and vision of Nick Denton‘s Gawker. As it closes down courtesy of a court case brought by Hulk Hogan, a friend of house Tolu Orekoya shares her – and our – personal grief.
Gawker.com is dead.
I wake up every morning and visit two sites: Gawker (and Jezebel) and then Linda Ikeji’s blog. Gawker was an intravenous drip for my faux-American sensibilities, allowing me to keep up with US culture, politics and life as I struggled to adjust to life as a returnee Nigeria. It became my watercooler of sorts, a place where people would gist about the big things and gossip about the nothings of the world.
I didn’t always like their writing, which often veered into an opinions-masquerading-as-news style, and to be honest they were pretentious, overweening assholes a lot of the time—it seemed their world began and ended in their little corner of New York. Their worldview and their writing was often too black and white; seemingly informed by the echo chambers of Gawker media newsroom, but I understood their privilege for what it was.
Still, I admired their ability to cut through all the bullshit, call it out and get to the heart of what a story meant. It allowed its audience to pull the curtain aside and Gawker was awesome at giving incisive commentary on any developing story—be it the cultural aside of the rising celebrity of a couple of rich sisters to the implications of the political scandal of toe-tapping in an airport bathroom stall.
What I really went to Gawker for though? The comments. We lost many in the great Gawker purge of… 2012 (f__k knows, I don’t remember. I do know there were two exoduses of commenters) as the commenters moved on to places like The Awl and Hairpin thanks to the wonderful fuck-up that is Kinja. A lot of how I came to understand how America really works on a governance level, of feminism in the US, of cultural appropriation of the word “Latinx” and intersectionality, and so much more started in the comment sections of Gawker—and there were tons of insider gossip that was always fun to read. The trolls were great too—a solid reminder that the US still has its racists, bigots, uniformed souls (with atrocious grammar), like the rest of us.
I lived through the disemvoweling era and the ban hammer, to the Neetzan Zimmerman and the clickbait era, through those awful, AWFUL AJ Daulerio years that made the website “privileged white boy opinions” central, and made the website turn from biting-yet-pointed to sometimes unnecessarily cruel without purpose. They were too devil-may-care justifying sometime horrific lack of judgement and invasions of privacy under their self-prescribed umbrella of “public service”, without care of who got hurt.
In the end, their inability to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel of lows caught up with them. Peter Thiel, a justifiably aggrieved rich, vindictive SOB served up his cold revenge for his involuntarily outing by the website, and forced the company and its owner Nick Denton to declare bankruptcy through a proxy lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan. Gawker (including Jezebel, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Deadspin, Kotaku and Jalopnik) has been sold off to Univision for $135 million, and the flagship website will cease operations next week.
Gawker was sometimes foul, sometimes funny, salacious and too much the embodiment of the American hipster personality it loathed. It has been a staple in my life for the last eight years and next week it will be gone.
Gawker.com was good.
PS: See anything worth talking about on the ins and outs of the media business in Nigeria on TV, radio, print and online (could be news, tweets, photos, opeds etc) send us a mail on [email protected] titled TMB. Let’s share the insight together!