What unites all of the different sites is the self-described “wickedly delicious” prose, which both draws in and repels readers and critics. (Who Are We) Jezebel itself is noted for its sharp prose and makes no attempts to soften its information. The New York Timeshas described Jezebel as “certainly cutting, and frequently incendiary”. (Mascia 2010) In an interview with New York Magazine, one of Jezebel earlier writers Moe Tkacik explained the writing style and general attitude toward the more neutral style of other media. “Quite frankly, fuck discretion…. discretion is why women’s magazine editors persist in treating their fellow humans like total shit; and when you’ve spent a career trying to catch others in their own indiscretions, discretion just feels a little dishonest and superior.” (Grigoriadis 2007) This candor may have Tkacik’s downfall, after she was let go following a controversial interview (Wayzn 2010) )This attitude to uncensored ideas and prose creates the “snark” that Jezebel prides itself on. The blog does not pander, but according to current editor-in-chief Jessica Coen Jezebel’s “readers are not condescended to, but leveled with.”(Mascia 2010) Jezebel seems to frame its website not just as a source of news but as one of the few sources of unfiltered truth. For others, this sharp tone can be seen intentionally trying to cause controversy. (Gould 2010) Indeed, Jezebel “suffers no fools” and “packs no punches” but “is frank and unapologetic about sex, drug use and other topics.” (Dobrow 2008) Instead of calculated criticalness, some view that Jezebel’s tone is established “by writers who are pushing readers to feel what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism.” (Gould 2010) As a result the tone can be read as “less sisterhood-is-powerful than middle-school clique in-fight”. (Gould 2010) (More about Jezebel critiques and controversies in a later post)
The site further specifies the tone with detailed guidelines for commentators on the site. The guidelines emphasize that Jezebel is reaching a tone that is sharp, but still expects commentators to be respectful. A commentator can earn “starred” status by offering comments that are repeatedly promoted by other readers and approved of by the editors or one of the group of readers who serve as moderators. (Coen 2010) The guidelines reflect the controversial nature of some of the content and the cruelty that comes occasional with digital anonymity. This is not in a traditional sense of being nice to others, but cautioning people to back up any critiques they have, and not to get involved with so-called “shitstorms” on the site that surround controversial issues. (Coen 2010) Jezebel does not hesitate to deactivate the profiles of commenter’s that have offended them or have become overly engaged in controversial postings, which the site has been critiqued for. (Wazny 2010:14-15) This also creates a hierarchy of commentators and insures a consistency of tone. (Wazny 2010)
Coen, Jessica. “Commenting On Jezebel: Rules Of The Road.” Jezebel. Jezebel.com, 27 Aug. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/5621055/a-friendly-note-on-commenting>.
Dobrow, Larry. “Lets Hear It for Women Who Suffer No Fools.” Ad Age Media Works. 13 March 2008. Web. 20 March 2012 < http://adage.com/article/mediaworks/hear-women-suffer-fools/125671/>
Gould, Emily. “How Feminist Blogs like Jezebel Gin up Page Views by Exploiting Women’s Worst Tendencies.” DoubleXX. Slate Magazine, 6 July 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2010/07/outrage_world.html>.
Grigoriadis, Vanessa. “Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass.” New York News & Features. New York Magazine, 14 Oct. 2007. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://nymag.com/news/features/39319/>.
Mascia, Jennifer. “A Web Site That’s Not Afraid to Pick a Fight.” NYTimes.com. New York Times, 12 July 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CEEDB103BF931A25754C0A9669D8B63>.
Wazny, Katelyn M. “Feminist Communities Online: What it means to be a Jezebel.” B Sides 8 (2010): 1- 23.
“Who We Are.” Gawker Media. Gawker Media. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://advertising.gawker.com/gawkermedia/>.