Coincidence that Nick Denton did this on the day of the Oscars? Hardly. I’d been hearing for awhile that the Gawker empire founder and chief exec was trying to sell Defamer, which accounts for only 2% of total traffic of his network ofInternet websites and had been flat for the past year. Then Denton announced Defamer was officially on the block. He had one taker but the offer wasn’t good enough. “Ultimately, the brand was worth more to us as a section of the Gawker site,” Denton writes today. So now 4-year-old Defamer is being merged into Gawker, the company’s flagship gossip blog, and will continue as Gawker’s entertainment column. Movie gossip will remain showcased on Defamer.com but the site will be staffed and managed as one with Gawker.com under Gawker managing editor Gabriel Snyder, a refugee from Hollywood coverage at Variety and W magazine. Gawker’s Richard Lawson will be assigned to the Defamer beat. And Gawker/Defamer is hiring a Hollywood gossip writer. (Applications to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Denton wrote today on Gawker that the change “reflects Gawker’s evolution into a national gossip site” which I consider a very savvy move by him. I’m told that top Defamer editor Seth Abramovitch was offered a position with the merged Gawker/Defamer, but declined. The other Defamer writers, Stu VanAirsdale and Kyle Buchanan, were fired. Meanwhile, I hear Seth, Stu and Kyle have been asking potential employers to hire them as a “gossip team” to duplicate what they did on Defamer. That means to aggregate other people’s posts, which Denton found isn’t as much in demand these days as original content sites (like my own Deadline Hollywood Daily). Then again, neither of those guys are journalists. Defamer also lost a lot of its lure in the marketplace a year ago after its witty founder Mark Lisanti left to pursue a showbiz writing career, and Harvey Levin’s TMZ arrived on scene to compete with established Perez Hilton.