LCB: One of the fired leakers, Andrew Krucoff, once wrote for Gawker, the blog you founded and the blog which is now hyping Krucoff as a strong contender to replace you at Mediabistro. And the person doing this hyping at Gawker used to do the job that you are about to leave at Mediabistro. This is all so incestuous and confusing —could you draw us a diagram?
What would the Elizabeth Spiers of 2003 — the “outsider” Alabama native who founded Gawker to mock the New York media elite — make of the Elizabeth Spiers of 2005, a cable news talking head, owner of a book contract, and, arguably, member of the New York media elite?
ES: Well, the Gawker post was entirely facetious. No one on that list, with the possible exception of my current deputy Aileen Gallagher, is, to my knowledge, a contender for my replacement. And there’s a lot of backstory there that Gawker’s not disclosing. I think if you look at my writing, my worldview hasn’t changed very much, and people who know me well personally make a point of reminding me that I haven’t changed, even when I perhaps should have. (Still cranky. Still misanthropic.) But I do think a lot of people compare Gawker when I was writing it to Gawker now and project the current version back onto me even though I’m not writing it, even though I have nothing to do with it and even though it’s materially different from when I was writing it.
Also, I’m pretty sure “members of the media elite” get paid a hell of a lot more than I do, so I’d dispute that characterization.
LCB: During your tenure at Mediabistro, the site was significantly retooled and now seems to be betting the farm on blogs (there are now six gossipy media blogs). What’s the thinking behind this?
ES: Actually, it’s the opposite. We’re not betting the farm on blogs, and it’s a very small part of what we do. But it also happens to be one of the most visible parts of what we do, and that’s exactly the point: it’s the most low-cost method we have at our disposal to do real-time reportage and produce daily, if not hourly, content. We could put that money into the feature well or directly into marketing, but the payoff and the exposure would be much lower. On a revenue basis, ad sales for the blogs are a completely negligible source of money in our projections, but, that said, we’ve greatly exceeded our revenue targets for that line of business since our January relaunch. The blogs basically allow us to broaden our audience and drive traffic to the site.
LCB: Used to be you couldn’t open a newspaper without seeing a story about how people are blogging and blogging — short for ‘web log’ and a sort of an online diary— is all the rage. This stream of stories is slowing down now (although the New York Times did somehow feel the need to write about the Gawker-related firing). Are bloggers’ fifteen minutes almost over? Every news network now has a blog or two — Brian Williams is blogging. Is the era of a book contract for every blogger coming to an end?