Much of the piece is devoted to the day Fallows spent with Nick Denton in the Gawker offices hearing about what makes a good headline and how the new “job of journalism is to provide surprise.”
Denton also revealed how he would run the NYT:
“If I were running The New York Times,” Denton said, “the first thing I would do is put numbers next to every story,” as Gawker does on its home page—not just include a most-e-mailed list but fully embrace the concept of giving readers more of what they want. If he felt compelled to do “good” for the world, Denton said, he would set up “offshore Gawkers” serving capitals where speech is limited, like Riyadh, Beijing, Tehran. “Zero political content—you don’t want to be seen as a ‘democracy advocate’ at all,” he said. “Just good, juicy, scurrilous gossip stories about nepotism and corruption and mistresses and Swiss bank accounts. Pictures of their houses! You would want to be seen as having wicked fun. And if you did that for 20 years …”
Here’s what no longer works:
Nick: But, anyway, look at me. I used to cover political reform in post-communist Eastern Europe, which had been my subject at Oxford.
And now I tell writers that the numbers (i.e. the audience) won’t support any worthiness. We can’t even write stories about moguls like Rupert Murdoch or Barry Diller unless it involves photographs of them cavorting with young flesh.
(I used to enjoy [doing] those stories in the old days, before web metrics.)
Oh those halcyon days. That said, the fact the NYT doesn’t push a real estate section chalk full of a gazzillion slide shows is entirely puzzling (when I looked just now they had 3…and I had to dig to find them).
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