I follow few bylines. Matt Taibbi tops the short list, which also includes Gawker writers Sam Biddle and John Cook. I read them for their biting style and searing sarcasm. But one of the vehicles for their content is gone, and I should have seen the end approaching.
The New Year left behind Valleywag, the snarky insider rag that over the course of 9 years shamelessly scorched Silicon Valley’s power elite. But no more. On December 31st, John posted “R.I.P. Valleywag, 2006-2015“. He writes:
Here lies Valleywag, a Silicon Valley gossip and news site launched in 2006 by Gawker Media and decommissioned in 2015. Its editors and writers over the years included Nick Douglas, Nick Denton, Owen Thomas, Ryan Tate, Nitasha Tiku, and Sam Biddle. The site’s archives are maintained here, but no new posts will be published at this page. You can find incisive news and commentary on the personalities and institutions that govern the technology world at Gizmodo.
I emailed John, who promptly replied, about his “obituary” for the site and also for Defamer. “Wouldn’t quite call those obituaries, more like death announcements”, he answers. “You may be right that a better send-off was in order—and I look forward to reading yours—but I didn’t really want to make a big thing of it. Just an explanation as to why there’s nothing new going up there. Valleywag had been effectively dead for nearly a year anyway”.
I had noticed a considerable decline in the frequency of posts, and I missed seeing Sam’s wit and wonderfully retching headlines. Such as: “Silicon Valley Trend Watch: Growing a Beard to Mask Pure Evil” or “The Lesbian Jewish Leftist Conspiracy Tearing Reddit Apart, Untangled“,
“We’ll still be covering the powerful in Silicon Valley, on Gawker and more on Gizmodo”, John says. “Stories like this http://gawker.com/tinder-confidential-the-hookup-apps-founders-cant-swip-1733787036 —won’t be going away”.
How true. Yesterday, Sam took the high road by going the low road with “The Ben Carson Campaign Is Alive and Well”. Yeah right. Rather than being overtly sarcastic, he deadpan describes the photo for greater bite: “To counter the doubters, Ben Carson has released this proof-of-life photo of his campaign, where he sits alone in a hotel room. Video chatting with New Hampshire schoolchildren. On a very tiny tablet”. I laughed my ass off.
What I love about Gawker is the overall interesting original storytelling that dares to beat convention senseless. I can’t beam enough about “We Sent the Oregon Militia Idiots a Care Package” posted yesterday by Ashley Feinberg. My wife and I drink Cafe Bustello, and the bright-yellow package caught my attention in the photo accompanying the story. I had to read.
Journalists are not supposed to be part of the story or try to advance the story by getting involved. I vaguely remember some rule like that from my mail-order journalism class. “Honestly, the longer this lasts, the more fodder for us”, she writes. “So we’ve decided to help their little occupation out”. How irreverent! I love it! Hehe, there’s a two-minute YouTube video with Ashley boxing the care package.
Valleywag may be gone but its spirit lives on.
Editor’s Note: A version of this story appears on Frak That!