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Aug. 22, 2017, 12:23 p.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK: www.washingtonpost.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   August 22, 2017

How would Gawker be covering the Trump era were it still around in 2017? It’s a question on the minds of many today, a year to the day after CEO Nick Denton announced the site was shutting down.

That question is tied up in the larger one about how Gawker, a site with significant numbers of both detractors and supporters, should be remembered. One take that’s getting a lot of attention is this Washington Post tribute by University of Maine professor Michael J. Socolow, who accurately concluded that Gawker’s legacy in death is just as complicated as its journalistic was role in life.

Gawker might have been foolhardy, reckless and ultimately self-destructive, but it was also, above all, courageous. With the hindsight of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, we should all recognize that courage in the media is needed now more than ever.

Gawker is mostly defined as a guilty pleasure, an exercise in prurience by bored Web surfers and their millennial progeny. Yet its impact on American media remains undeniable. It launched the careers of an excellent set of young journalists, and it demonstrated a rare independence from corporate pressure, celebrity handlers and political operatives

Many former Gawker writers and editors shared Socolow’s affection for Gawker’s journalistic legacy.

Others, like former Gawker writer Max Read, have noted that Gawker’s spirit is still very much alive across the industry. Gawker reporters have gone onto to write for and edit many other publications, including Splinter, The Intercept, New York Magazine, and Wired. (We’ve covered how the Special Projects Desk at Gizmodo Media Group is keeping some of the Gawker legacy alive.)

Of course, the post-mortem fondness for Gawker is far from universal. Gawker’s brand of reporting was always too cruel and uncompromising for some, and many were happy to see the site go, and are still happy that its gone. (Others like David Boardman, dean of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University were more ambivalent about Gawker’s legacy.)

For other Gawker reactions from last year, here’s Max Read on who really killed Gawker, Tom Scocca on the disturbing realty of billionaire-funded publication takedowns, and a piece by Chore Sicha that concludes, somewhat eerily, that “The moment will come soon enough when you need a Gawker, and you’ll be furious that you no longer have one.”

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