Beginning this January, Denton has announced that his nine blogs, including celebrity gossip site Jezebel, gadget sites Gizmodo and Lifehacker and of course the the eponymous media news umbrella Gawker.com will be starting 2011 with a new design aimed to improve quality and emphasize originality. The new design will eschew their current reverse chronological format of endless posts for a new format resembling a “newsmagazine” and dominated by a single story. Other posts will be delegated to a stream of headlines on the right-hand side.
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In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Denton explained, “I’m out of blogs…I don’t want to be the No. 1 blog network anymore. That’s like being king of the playground.”
“I can’t bear to look at the current site,” Denton said. “It is so constricting.” Denton hopes the new design will draw attention to original work, not just scandalous news of Lindsay Lohan running over baby carriages. “The most popular story is not always the one we are most proud of,” he added. “There’s too much sex.” He also hopes to emphasize the growing video network with the new design, which received 17.3 million unique U.S. visitors in September. The new site will also create more space for video ads. “The new layout is optimized for video, so it’s going to be great for Gawker.TV,” says Richard Blakeley, Gawker.TV’s editor.
To preview the new Gawker.com and its sister sites, replace the www in the URL with beta—e.g., beta.gawker.com. The landing page is dominated by a large image, headline and single story with a list of other headlines will sit along the right side. In a recent New Yorker profile, Denton says that the redesign will “probably be seen as the end of the blog.”
Since Denton launched Gizmodo in 2002 a large number of media news sites have copied and admired his blogging instincts, SEO happy headlines and back-end analytics system. “He has been pushing this envelope in terms of using technology,” said Om Malik in the Wall Street Journal, who has been blogging about technology on Gigaom.com since 2001. He has a talent for “nudging [users] along towards a new usage behavior.” Gawker’s CTO, Thomas Plunkett, said he believes the new design will double the network’s monthly page views to one billion a year after launch.
In the days of Twitter and Facebook, personal profiles turned soap boxes may be rendering traditional blog writing obsolete. Slate columnist Farhad Manjoo recently reported on the subject, interviewing bloggers and editors to define the difference between an “article” and a “blog post.” As technology expands and the Internet takes on such a life of its own, a blogger’s clarity of purpose can become a bit blurred. When large media organizations re-tool their current strategies to disseminate news more quickly through an array of social media channels, it’s promising to see an emphasis placed on original news and richer multi-media content.
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