"Have you planned anything for your last day?" asked Gawker emperor Nick Denton the other afternoon. "Jessica set a very high bar when she left, and you need to exceed it." Nick was referring to former Gawker editor Jess Coen's departure day, when she famously took the opportunity to excoriate Joe Dolce for being a douchebag. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the only people I managed to infuriate during my tenure here at Gawker were my co-workers. (As far as I know; no one else bothered to write in.) However, there is one person that I'd like to share a couple of stories about on my way out the door: Nick Denton. Nick, here's one last self-referential post just for you. I know how much you love them!
Where to begin? Let's start with my very first day, when Nick very solemnly informed me that I should go after everyone: "There's no one you can't afford to piss off." Uh, actually, Nick? There's no one you can't afford to piss off: the rest of us still have to eat.
Or the first week, when we had a staff meeting at the office to discuss the site's focus. "Gawker has a reputation, and not undeservedly so in my opinion, for being needlessly cruel. We need to be aware of that," he told us. Two minutes later he was suggesting story ideas. "Who's shorter in real life than you think they'd be? Who has dandruff? That's the sort of thing people want to know about." THANKS FOR THE CLARITY, boss!
Then there's the correspondence. Typical Denton e-mails are cryptic one-line semi-sentences like "real estate porn?" or "long story in times today" which send the editors scrambling to decipher their meanings. On the other hand, sometimes he can be absolutely direct in what he wants. For example:
Speaking of omissions, why haven't you lot made hay of the nude photo of Annie Liebovitz in the latest Vanity Fair?
there are pubes involved.
Of course, there are plenty of amusing aspects to working with Nick. About once every two weeks you get a particularly satisfying feeling when he sends you an e-mail demanding to know why you haven't covered a subject and you can actually send him a link to the story that's been up for four hours already. The times when you get to prove him wrong are always enjoyable. But my favorite encounter with Nick came a couple months into my time on the job. I had written a fairly innocuous item about David Geffen ("If David Geffen buys the LAT will the paper be able to cover his friends fairly? Speaking as the employees of a gay media magnate ourselves, we're gonna say no," which occasioned an almost-immediate IM.
Nick Denton: Speaking as the employees of a gay media magnate ourselves, we're gonna say no.
Nick Denton: Congratulations, you've finally managed to piss me off.
Frankly, I was a little disappointed it had taken that long. Hopefully I've been able to do it one last time.