Nick Denton, publicity cat.

Media criticism.
July 11 2006 7:19 PM

Nick Denton, Publicity Cat

How the Gawker Media guy reaps so much media attention.

(Continued from Page 1)

Denton's skills at media manipulation include a knack for pulling off stunts. In early June Gawker got the press on both sides of the Atlantic (New York Times, Observer) writing about its prank on Hello!, the U.K. celebrity magazine. Hello! had purchased pictures of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and their infant Shiloh for $3.5 million, and Gawker obtained and published a shot of the cover before the magazine reached the newsstand. Also, People had purchased the U.S. rights to the photos for $4.1 million. Denton had to know going in that Hello! and People would scream copyright infringement and send ugly letters from their legal departments demanding that the pictures comes down, which Gawker could then milk by reprinting on the site with its cheeky responses. You can't buy publicity like that. Gawker declared victory over Hello! and People—probably as it originally intended—when it published a "fair use" thumbnail image of the People cover once it reached newsstands. Will Hello! and People ever sue? Denton believes they won't because it will take too much energy, and I reckon he's right. For Gawker's take on the episode, see "The Battle of Shiloh."

In rolling out his blogs, Denton conforms to a design maximized to reap publicity. His first stop was New York City, where the flagship beguiled the elites (and attracted media interest) with steady servings of media news and gossip. From that national platform he added his first regional blog, Wonkette, which tweaked the powerful and under-written-about in Washington, D.C. Then he went on to Los Angeles, where Defamer riled the entertainment industry, and most recently he dropped into the Silicon Valley with Valleywag. At every juncture the local media, which couldn't be bothered to write about sex scandals, the secret shames of the rich, binge drinking in the halls of power, or other forbidden knowledge, has pissed itself wet writing about the Gawker sites.

Advertisement

Denton claims he's in the blog business for the fun of it and to shake up the staid newspaper industry. When the Washington Post presents a prim offering titled "The Reliable Source" in lieu of a true gossip column, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times don't even suit up to take the field, he has a point. Denton believes that reporters spike gossipy copy about the rich and powerful because they want to stay on the right source lists and still get invited to all the "in" parties. Where such colorful copy exists, it's probably fretful editors doing the suppressing, not reporters, and here we discover the richest source of publicity for Denton to tap. Secretly, many reporters wish they were Denton, free to the point of anarchy to write whatever they wish. What better proxy for their secret rebellion than to write expansively about Nick Denton's wild adventures?

*******

Send snide, gossipy comments and threatening legal notices to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Shafer's handbuilt RSS feed.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

A Simple Way to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.