Gawker’s Nick Denton Reflects on Site’s Failure in Final Post: ‘Freedom Was Illusory’

“It is a fitting conclusion to this experiment in what happens when you let journalists say what they really think,” Gawker founder writes

Gawker founder Nick Denton authored one final story for the site on Monday, a post titled “How Things Work” set to serve as the blog’s last before it shuts down for good.

Named for one of the site’s popular tags, which Denton explains was attached to posts “revealing the sausage-making, the secret ways that power manifests itself,” the post reflects on the site’s history and downfall, comparing it to a news story Gawker itself would rabidly cover.

“Gawker will be missed,” Denton wrote. “But in dramatic terms, it is a fitting conclusion to this experiment in what happens when you let journalists say what they really think.”

Denton’s Gawker Media went bankrupt last year after losing a $140 million lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan over a sex tape published on the site, a lawsuit later revealed to have been funded by billionaire investor Peter Thiel.

Last week, the company was purchased by Univision, which announced it would be shuttering the flagship site Gawker.com after Monday and reassigning the staff to other roles within the media conglomerate.

“The rest of the staff and the rest of the brands — Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Jezebel, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Deadspin — are in the shelter of a Hispanic media company pursuing the broader multicultural and millennial audience,” wrote Denton. “They are planning their next offsite meeting for Miami; I am relieved they are all safe.”

According to Denton, the site’s demise is evidence that a publication that refuses to play nice with its subjects ultimately can’t survive. Throughout its run, Gawker made too many enemies of too many powerful people, including Thiel.

“It’s difficult to recall now, but at Gawker’s founding there was a sense that the internet was a free space, where anything can be said,” Denton continued. “But when you try to make a business out of that freedom, the system will fight you. As our experience has shown, that freedom was illusory. The system is still there. It pushed back. The power structure remains.”

“And so Gawker’s demise turns out to be the ultimate Gawker story. It shows how things work,” he wrote.

Read the full post on Gawker.

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