Gawker Media founder Nick Denton does not like BuzzFeed.
On Gawker’s new commenting platform Kinja, Denton wrote, “Jonah Peretti’s company is pointless.”
He followed up by saying, “For Peretti, it is a game, a game to be played with every story, with the soundbites that paper over the inconsistency in Buzzfeed’s editorial approach. He wants to win, like us. But he doesn’t know why he wants to win. I do.”
This was just latest attack on Peretti and BuzzFeed. Last year he did the same thing saying, “Buzzfeed will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.”
This doesn’t seem like it’s any ordinary media feud. It sure seems like there’s more here, like there was something personal between Denton and Peretti.
So, I emailed Denton about it. Repeatedly. I wanted to know if there was some point where he started hating Peretti.
He says there’s nothing particularly personal:
“You’re looking for an anecdote that doesn’t exist. My dad stayed at Jonah’s apartment when he visited in 2004; but no, there was no unforgivable slight.
“It’s not Jonah himself I hate, but this stage of internet media for which he is so perfectly optimised.
I see an image of his cynical smirk — made you click! — every time a stupid Buzzfeed listicle pops on Facebook. Peretti is one of the smartest members of a generation that has devoted its talents to Facebook optimization.”
I emailed Peretti for a comment. If has anything to say, I’ll update this post.
Until then, here’s the full batch of comments from Denton on Peretti from Gawker, and our emailing back and forth.
First, Denton wrote:
Jonah Peretti’s company is pointless. But he understands the internet; he manipulates the Facebook ecosystem better than anyone; and he is utterly shameless in his pursuit of viral stories. (Even more shameless than we are, some would say.)
And Buzzfeed is the perfect competitor — highly motivating. It is a fair fight; some earlier rivals like Gothamist required too much puffing up to make a plausible rival. And it’s a meaningful fight, because Gawker Media and Buzzfeed represent two very different forces struggling for the soul of internet media.
He followed up by saying:
Buzzfeed competes with us for editorial talent — and for press attention. They have made native advertising their own. But they also represent a different vision of the internet.
For Peretti, it is a game, a game to be played with every story, with the soundbites that paper over the inconsistency in Buzzfeed’s editorial approach. He wants to win, like us. But he doesn’t know why he wants to win. I do.
So why compete with Buzzfeed? Because it’s motivating to me. It defines more clearly the Gawker ethos. And because this particular competitor makes us sharper and angrier, in a way that Disqus or WordPress never could.
And finally, he posted our back and forth over email:
You seem to consistently bash Jonah Peretti. What sparked that? Was there a particular moment? Did he do something to you? Is it just that BuzzFeed is successful?
I explained that all yesterday. I have nothing more to say!
Seemed like to me you just say that your beef with him is that he’s successful, but just likes to game the system. So that’s your beef? his success at figuring out the Internet?
If he wasn’t successful, he wouldn’t be a worthy competitor. He’s figured out the formula for shareable smarm, yes.
Fortunately, readers have other interests, such as information, debate and gossip.
Yes… but there’s more to this. Last year you tweeted, “My views may have been coloured by @peretti’s “best man” speech at Duncan Watts’ 40th birthday. Excruciating.”
What was that about? Was there some turning point where you just decided you hate him? It seems like you have an above average level of annoyance about him. There are lots of successful media companies out there and I don’t get the sense you hate them like you hate BuzzFeed and Peretti.
You’re looking for an anecdote that doesn’t exist. My dad stayed at Jonah’s apartment when he visited in 2004; but no, there was no unforgivable slight.
It’s not Jonah himself I hate, but this stage of internet media for which he is so perfectly optimised.
I see an image of his cynical smirk — made you click! — every time a stupid Buzzfeed listicle pops on Facebook. Peretti is one of the smartest members of a generation that has devoted its talents to Facebook optimization.
That’s less sketchy than the signature group of last decade, the SEO experts who gamed Google. A story does need some intrinsic appeal to get shared on Facebook.
But it’s a waste of energy and brainpower: there’s got to be some greater purpose to internet media than the reinvention of the listicle or the identity quiz.
OK, but why did you say that your view was coloured by the best man speech and now you say that has nothing to do with it?
Jesus, you’re the one who’s obsessed. You and all the other internet journalists.
Yes, I was struck by his complete lack of understanding of an audience, specifically Duncan Watts’ parents.
But I also know what a dick he used to be at Eyebeam, where my ex worked.
And his wife Andrea is absolutely lovely and they seem to have a good relationship.
And we used to collaborate on parties and he put up my father.
And he represents everything that’s skilful — and pernicious — about the internet today.
All of the above. If you can’t reconcile these observations, then maybe you’re too binary a thinker.
I’m posting this up to Kinja — so I don’t have to answer these questions again.