Who the hell knows what is really happening at Gawker, and who the hell cares? Answer: Gawker and Gawker. Which is the interesting thing to me about all of this, the way a story about Gawker has, primarily, been reported on Gawker. And without Gawker leaking internal Gawker memos to Gawker, would we know what’s happening at Gawker? And would we care?
Probably not, and probably not. Which is to say, simply: this is how “the news” is made. Not “reported,” which would imply that it was already news before news-media decided it was, but “made”: news is news because the news says it is. This is why Nick Denton gets points for admitting that his litmus test for a story’s newsworthiness is whether it’s “interesting”: he is interesting in publishing stories, primarily, that he is interested in publishing, and this tautology is the thing itself. How do you know if a thing is newsworthy? Well, if it’s on the news, then it must be news. There can therefore be no question of ever taking down a post, once the editorial collective has decided to put it up, because publishing is a self-fulfilling prophecy: having declared it to be news, it becomes news. This must be what takes the place of “the public interest” for a media organization that does not derive its sense of journalistic ethics from that sense of its social constituency. Gawker is because Gawker is: the purest of pure media, speech as a good absent other considerations. It is Reddit, but so very much better at it.
It’s not surprising, then, that the Gawker “Brand Book” is as wondrously and perfectly vacuous as it is. Here, for example, are all the phrases containing the word “real”:
So what really happened? What we want is the real story. We reveal what’s really happening without restraint, inhibition, or ulterior motives. We tell the real story. What We Do: Get the real story. Media Brands: We tell the real story. We explain what’s really happening. Explain the intricacies of the real story to the people who need to hear them most. Media Platform: We help anyone find the real story. To create and discover the real stories that matter to them. Commitment to surfacing the real story. This is what we ask you to do when finding the real story. To push beyond the surface to reveal the real story and diverse perspectives.
The word “real” is the fetish object whose incantatory rhythm lulls us into blissful submission, into overlooking the fact that the question “What is Gawker for?” could never have an answer. If Gawker had a purpose, it wouldn’t be Gawker. Gawker is for Gawker, world without end, amen, and the end of all our gawking will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. Gawker is as Gawker does, and as it turns out, Gawker sure as hell does.