As Gawker.com prepares to head off into the hot take-y, Brooklyn-splaining sunset, I'm reminded that the Gawker Media blog I'm going to miss most is Defamer.
Not the most recent incarnation of Defamer, which was basically Gawker Talkin' Hollywood.
Not even the incarnation before that when Defamer was resurrected without much luck after editor Mark Lisanti shuffled off.
I'm talking about the original Defamer.com, back when it rivaled and even surpassed Gawker in terms of quality and comedy.
I often say that Deadspin under Will Leitch was one of the influences that tried to emulate most when I started TNIAAM. That is true, but my appreciation for Deadspin's early days was a result of my appreciation for the first Gawker site I devoured on a daily basis - Defamer.
As a lowly peon working for a Los Angeles movie studio, Defamer was everything I wanted to read all day every day. It took the news that was relevant to my interests and snarked the shit out of it. It was often funny, often brutal, often well-written and usually all three at the same time. I didn't really read Gawker all that much for a long time because to me it was "The New York Defamer" and who cares about that? My 20-something interests were movies and sports and all I needed to get me through the day were Defamer and Deadspin.
The founder and editor, Mark Lisanti, has been referred to as a "highly-revered-by-other-bloggers blogger" and I think that's a pretty valid label because, quite honestly, his style is embedded in the DNA of just about every popular blog out there right now. While I don't remember specifics, I just remember that every post crackled with humor, the titles were either witty or purposefully-dumb in a way that made them witty, and the site took no prisoners in a town where the media were often the prisoners.
Over time, Gawker Media grew up, and yet it didn't. Defamer is gone. Leitch left Deadspin a long time ago. And now Gawker.com is about to be no more. We've still got io9 and Jezebel and of course Deadspin but we'll have to wait and see how things change for them.
I think Gawker leaves behind one hell of a conflicting legacy. On one hand, it's scary that a rich person can basically will a media company out of existence because he's got the money and time to do so. On the other hand, you can't say Gawker didn't bring this on themselves. One too many "you're wrong we're right" hit-pieces. One too many unnecessary gay outings. One too many snarky-as-hell takedowns of a rival media company just because they could.
I feel bad for the people losing their jobs and I feel bad for the good content we'll be missing out on, but I can't say I feel bad for "Gawker."
There's obviously a bigger conversation to be had about all of this and I'm sure there are a million thinkpieces en route as I type this. But I guess I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate the good things that I got out of being a Gawker reader even while reminding myself it's not all that surprising that we got here. I don't like the idea that a media company can't speak freely without fear of getting bankrupted into oblivion, but at the same time there were probably ways Gawker could have handled their business that would have prevented it in the first place. There's a reason TMZ thrives while Gawker dies.
I hope that TNIAAM (and all the other blogs out there) can take the good lessons, leave behind the bad ones, and we can all continue to make mean comments from our mother's basements without fear that a billionaire is going to wipe us out cause he doesn't like us.
I suppose you take your chances either way.