Several former Gawker Media employees are trying to buy back the controversial news site’s archives and domain, in an effort to relaunch the outlet under the name “The Gawker Foundation.”
The former employees began a Kickstarter.com campaign Monday, seeking $500,000 dollars for a bid on the upcoming auction.
“Gawker isn’t gone, it’s up for auction. The person who drove the site into bankruptcy wants to buy it. We’re a group of former Gawker Media employees across editorial, tech, and business, and we want to put in our own bid to buy it back. We believe the site can thrive in an entirely membership funded model,” the website reads.
James Del, a former Gawker advertising executive, is leading the charge, claiming that former editor Elizabeth Spiers and a dozen “Gawker Media alumni” are assisting him. Under this plan, the new Gawker would be an “ownerless, advertiser-less, non-profit media organization.”
“I’m the only name involved because everyone else has a day job working for another company. I run my own company, so there’s no risk that I’m going to fire myself for being involved,” Spiers told Business Insider.
Gawker’s archives and domain are currently for sale after they were not included with the other Gawker Media properties in Univision’s 2016 acquisition. Hulk Hogan was awarded $140 million in damages in a Florida court after Gawker published a sex tape featuring the pro wrestler without his permission, forcing the site into bankruptcy. Shortly after the judgement, news outlets uncovered that tech billionaire Peter Thiel financed Hogan’s lawsuit.
Reports have surfaced in recent weeks that Thiel is attempting to purchase the Gawker domain, which would signify the latest move in his quest for revenge after the site had outed him in an article as gay.
Part of the former Gawker employees’ motivation behind the Kickstarter is to stop Thiel from making the purchase:
If you haven’t heard, independent and local media outlets are struggling financially right now, and an army of trolls, bad actors, and powerful people are hiding in the wings to snuff out any inconvenient stories and publications. This is the reality of media in 2017. Thankfully, the team behind The Gawker Foundation has decades of combined media experience across business, editorial, and technology. We’re ready to run this site responsibly, transparently, and efficiently, with all funds raised going to pay for writers/editors, legal protection, and basic administration. By keeping a lean, distributed operation, we plan to stay in operation as long as readers are willing to support our work.
At the time of this publication, the campaign has raised more than $20,000 with 326 backers, and is scheduled to end in 28 days.
Prior to its closure, Gawker had long courted controversy. Outside of publishing the Hogan sex tape without his permission or outing Thiel, a writer had published an article showing texts from a Conde Nast executive allegedly having attempting to have an affair with a male escort. Gawker paid the employee a settlement in an effort to avoid another lawsuit, according to reports.
When criticized for its editorial practices, Gawker employees frequently cited a convoluted philosophy regarding societal power structures. Any individual in a position of power — as defined by Gawker — should have no expectations of privacy or respect.
“We are prepared to say what others are too polite, intimidated, or compromised to say. The people and institutions who exercise power—be it political, cultural, corporate, or technological—do not and should not exercise exclusive control of their public narratives, images, and personae,” Gawker Media’s Editorial Code states.
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