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Gawker deathwatch?

Gawker logoActing just like a real media company, Gawker Media waited for the start of a long holiday weekend to announce a big shake up: they are dropping two of their sites, Sploid and Screenhead and have axed Gawker editor Jesse Oxfeld. Hoping I suppose that the news would cool somewhat while New York media hounds were moisturizing their leathery hides on the beaches of Fire Island and the Hamptons, it still managed to get picked up by [The New York Times] and [The Huffington Post] (where Arianna may have taken [special pleasure] at the news). Denton explains on [his blog] that they’re “battening down” in an uncertain advertising climate. But online advertising is booming. Curious…

Oxfeld, in his [gallows valedictory], says that they are planning to devote more coverage to “popular culture” (*cough* Lindsey Lohan) and, one presumes, less to the incestuous world of Manhattan media. This will probably not take Maer Roshan out of their crosshairs, however. Interestingly, in explaining his decision to hack off two of his limbs, Denton says, “it’s easy enough to start a site; increasingly tough to attract attention.” But other sites, like… oh… say [perezhilton.com] seem to be having no problem attracting attention:

And this, I think, is the real reason for the reorg. Alexa traffic ranking data show that over the past two quarters Gawker, one of Denton’s banner brands, has seen its audience reach decline by 12% while that of perezhilton.com has boomed by 34%, just about matching that of Gawker — a site that has been around for years. One can buy a week of blogads on perezhilton.com for $202, that’s dirt cheap for reach that matches Gawker. And perezhilton.com, the brainchild of [Mario Lavandeira], is a one-man shop with, one imagines, far lower operating costs than his more established rival.

Hard to compete with that — even if you are planning wall-to-wall BradLohanGelina. And it can only get worse — who knows how many new Perez Hiltons are out there sharpening their baby claws as we speak. Not to mention the return of Radar online (no, really, don’t mention it). Thanks to Ron Burkle and the errant monkey’s paw, that re-animated corpse will soon be knocking on doors again, ravenously in search of the ad dollars Denton needs. The same applies to all the other Gawker Media sites (Gizmodo, Fleshbot, etc.) — they are at the mercy of the technology that allows anyone to start a site and non-existent reader loyalty. No wonder Denton is quoted in the Times as saying, “The world does not need more blogs.”

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

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