I like Valleywag. Partially because it’s often funny. And partially because it makes fun of people when they take themselves a bit too seriously.
Today, Valleywag announced that Nick Douglas, its former editor, is leaving. It’s not clear whether he’s leaving for a better gig, or leaving as in sacked. Nick Denton, Gawker’s top dog and publisher, will step in for Nick Douglas until a permanent replacement is found.
There is always a lot more unknown than known when it comes to employment and business arrangements, but barring something very significant that we don’t know about, it was a mistake for Gawker to let Nick Douglas go (regardless of who initiated the movement). He is a good and funny writer. Based on a few email exchanges, he seems like a nice guy, too. He was quick to reply with helpful information when I wrote him looking for background on a post I was working on.
One passage in the post announcing Nick Douglas’s departure sticks out like a flashing neon light in a pitch black room:
I suspect we’re going to tone down the personal coverage of civilians, because they haven’t done anything to seek out attention, and their personal lives aren’t that interesting. Unless they are. Anyway, more money, a little less sex: that is Valleywag’s new gossip mantra.
As Thomas Hawk points out in his take on these developments, that’s a departure from Valleywag’s past, and probably not what most of its readers secretly want.
It sounds to me like Gawker bending to the will of some unhappy industry insiders who don’t like to pop up on Valleywag. I can tell you from first hand conversation and emails that there are a lot of established bloggers and tech industry names that don’t like Valleywag or Nick Douglas.
But isn’t that part of what made Valleywag popular?
Can it suddenly change course and become a part of the establishment that it previously poked fun at? Is the money-obsessed crowd going to suddenly look to Valleywag for industry news?
More money inspired stories?
We don’t need Valleywag writing more about money. The entire rest of the blogosphere, not to mention most of the old media, already obsesses on money. Saying we need more focus on money is like saying we need more ads. Or more root canals.
What we need is more fun. There is a reason why Borat is kicking ass at the theaters.
And as far as gossip is concerned- I don’t think the true story of Nick Douglas’s departure will remain shrouded in mystery for very long. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more about this in the coming days.
Regardless, I can’t wait to see where Nick Douglas ends up.