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Gawker Suspends Operations Amid Bustle Digital Group Layoffs

Deadline logo Deadline 2/1/2023 Ted Johnson
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Gawker is suspending operations, again.

Bustle Digital Group on Wednesday announced that it was shutting down the revived media brand, about 18 months after reviving the title.

In an email to staffers, CEO Bryan Goldberg also wrote that they would be eliminating about 8% of positions at the company. “Gawker published a lot of brilliant pieces in these nearly two years. But in this new reality, we have to prioritize our better monetized sites. It’s a business decision, and one that, reluctantly, must be made.”

The editor in chief of Gawker, Leah Finnegan, wrote, “Well, after an incredible 1.5 years, BDG has decided it is done with Gawker 2.0. Can’t say enough about how proud I am of the site and all the brilliant people who worked to create it, and what a staggering shame this is. I had an absolute blast, and I love you.”

The original Gawker was an early digital media success, with its snarky voice and irreverent approach to celebrity and other boldfaced names. But it was on the losing side of Hulk Hogan’s privacy suit over the publication of a sex tape. Saddled with $140 million in damages, Gawker filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 2016. Bustle Digital Group later bought the site and revived it in 2021.

The announcement is the latest upheaval in digital media, with Vox Media and BuzzFeed also announcing recent layoffs.

Bustle recognized the Writers Guild of America East as a bargaining unit two years ago, but the sides have yet to come to an agreement on a contract.

In a statement, the WGAE said it was “appalled” by the planned layoffs, which include nearly 40 of their members.

“This is the third round of layoffs over the last six months that have effectively led to halving the original unit from 200 workers to just above 100 workers,” the WGAE said. “Today’s latest round of layoffs, and the closure of Gawker, came after more than two years of attempting to bargain a first contract with BDG, and on the heels of more recent bargaining dates being outright canceled by the Company.”

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