Jessica Coen and Jesse Oxfeld, freelancers and co-editors of Gawker.com, serve up a day-long stream of media-centric and celebrity gossip from their respective homes in New York City. As part of Nick Denton’s Gawker Media (which includes 13 different blogs), Gawker concentrates on the rumors, missteps, buried leads and suspicious “personnel moves” that the media bubble so loves to gossip about.
Paul McLeary: Are there any big drawbacks to working from home every day? What is a normal day like?
Jesse Oxfeld: I love this job, but I hate starting work at 7:30 in the morning. Now, I work from my house, so my commute to work is fantastic, it varies from to five to seven minutes, but starting at 7:30 drives me crazy.
Jessica Coen: We’ve always got something [posted] by 8:00 am. If I’m not sitting at my desk reading by 7:15, I’m behind. But that’s me. Jesse gets started about half an hour later, which is fine because I like to be done earlier.
JO: Right, I’m usually working until 5:30 or 6:00 or after 6:00, while Jessica usually finishes a littler earlier. At Gawker we have a “flex-time plan.”
JC: Even when we leave the desk and go out we’re still conscious of getting back and getting our emails because even if you leave for an hour you’re going to come back to 60 or 70 emails.
PM: How is the email flow during the day? Do you get a lot of what you write through reader tips?
JC: Tips, outside of spam, maybe 200 emails a day. It depends on what we’re covering and who we’re working with. Links to things we might not see, or breaking news …
JO: That’s what I find most useful — ideally, we could be reading every media item, but you can’t. The things I like the most aren’t some great inside tip or gossip but just something someone emailing in saying “You have to check out the seventeenth paragraph in this story in the Times, where they have this ridiculous quote about such and such.”
JC: We read everything we can, but we’re always going to miss something, especially when it’s breaking. It’s kind of great that readers think of Gawker and send us things. Conventional wisdom is that if we get three reader emails about something specific by 11:00 am, Gawker should have an item on it. People are expecting Gawker to cover it.
JO: Some tips are “I work at such-and-such and someone got fired but here’s what you didn’t know …” but that’s the vast minority. What I really love are the ones not saying “Did you see this front page item in the Thursday Styles section?” because yes, we saw it, but people flagging little obscure things. It’s the classic Jeff Jarvis, Jay Rosen distributive journalism kind of thing: “Our readers are smarter than we are,” as Dan Gillmor said. And it’s great to steal someone else’s joke, and have them thank you for it.
JC: It’s true …
JO: I don’t steal the jokes verbatim, but sometimes there’s a good line and you end up using it, and people are like, “Oh, my god they’re using my joke!”
PM: A lot of what you guys do seems to be run by, let’s say, personal obsessions, such as your continuing harsh-but-funny coverage of the problems at Radar magazine, or the Olsen twins moving to New York or when Jessica kept IM’ing Matt Drudge, with no response. Have you received any feedback from any of these people?
JO: When I went to the Radar launch party — which, in fairness, I was not invited to — I showed up, I walked in, and I made it a point of finding [Radar editor] Maer [Roshan] right away — who I sort of used to be friends with — and shook his hand and said “I want to say two things. First, congratulations, and second I’m ready for my comeuppance.” And he looked at me and said “How did you get in?” And I said, “Nobody stopped me.” And he just said “Oh,” and turned around and continued the conversation with the person on his right. So that was the extent of my conversation with him. As you may or may not have seen, their publicist had this theoretically anonymous blog on which he liked making fun of me, not realizing that it’s fairly easy to look up who owns the blog. So yeah, they’re not too happy with us.