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Snarky, Much?

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)

Works Cited:

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&gt;.

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&gt;.

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/&gt;.

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&gt;.

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/&gt;.

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Jezebel: Just one piece of Gawker Media

Before breaking down the significance of Jezebel, it would be helpful to explain the history and set-up of the site. Jezebel was founded in May 2007 as a purely female directed blog associated with Gawker.com, the popular online news/culture blog.  (PR Week) The website has 2.1 million monthly readers(Jezebel demographics).   Gawker Media was established in 2002 by Nick Denton and currently publishes eight different blogs that each target niche audiences. (Who We Are) The blogs range from Deadspin, which focuses on sports, to i09, which focuses on technology (Who We Are). The different blogs will often link to each other’s content, or have their content featured on the more general main site, Gawker.com. While Gawker at its root is meant to express the experience and ideas of a young New Yorker, the wide range of sites shows broader appeal(Grigoriadis 2007). A glance at the Gawker.com home page reveals that the stories expand far beyond the interest and experience of a New Yorker but still with the biting edge the city is known for.

Dent likes to view Gawker publications not just as a string of blogs but an empire of magazines like Condé Naste (Grigoriadis 2007). Additionally, many of the writers are journalist with credits from mainstream news outlets and formal media training (Grigoriadis 2007).  In fact, “Gawker is often credited with legitimizing blogging as journalism” and instead of more lowbrow blog posts, the items on the page are described as articles, which has a more professional connotation(Manjoo 2010).

This growth of Gawker media can be viewed as a result of the “professionalization of blogging.”  While blogging was once a more independent medium, professionals from the media are increasingly staffing it, or bloggers are becoming part of other media projects (Carlson 2009). An article in Atlantic Magazine discusses these phenomena, citing a discussion among bloggers where “almost everyone weighing in agreed that blogging has become more corporate, more ossified and increasingly indistinguishable from the mainstream media”(Carlson 2009). With the increasing popularity of blogging it has become a profitable industry, and is therefore increasingly subject to market disciplines” (Carlson 2009).  However, due to its occasionally risqué and controversial material, Jezebel is considered “a risky self for mainstream marketers” (Dobrow 2008).

The websites all feature visible advertisements, the first of which was an Absolut Vodka ad in 2003 (Timetoast).  All of the Gawker Media holdings are vastly popular, and together reached over 250 million page views in June 2008(Timetoast).  In February 2012, Jezebel received 11,274,170 page views (Jezebel Stats). Page views are displayed for the website as a whole, and individually by reach contributor (Jezebel Stats). There is also a detailed report for all of the Gawker media holdings, which breaks down the holdings by demographics. All of the statistics indicate that Jezebel, and Gawker in general have a large number of viewers, cementing their importance in the digital media landscape.

Works Cited:

Carlson, Benjamin. “The Rise of the Professional Blogger.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/09/the-rise-of-the-professional-blogger/7696/&gt;.

Chartbeat. “Jezebel.com.” Chartbeat. Web. 19 June 2009 < http://chartbeat.com/dashboard2/? url=jezebel.com&k=2b3d990a244b3531b681932ac5c8ce33 >.

 “Demographics.” Gawker Media. Gawker Media. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://advertising.gawker.com/demographics/&gt;.

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/>

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/&gt;.

 “Jezebel.” Gawker Media Advertising. Gawker Media. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://advertising.gawker.com/jezebel/&gt;.

“Jezebel Stats.” Jezebel: Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing. Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/stats/?unique=true&gt;.

Johnson, Steve. “Jezebel: A Few words with the editor [Chicago Edition].” The Chicago Tribune.25 July 2007: Web. <22 Mar. 2012 < http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-07-25/features/0707230542_1_jezebel-gawker-media-celebrity&gt;

Manjoo, Farhad. “Blogs and Web Magazines Are Looking More and More Alike. What’s the Difference?” Slate Magazine. Slate Magazine, 15 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2010/10/this_is_not_a_blog_post.html&gt;.

PR Week. “Journalist Q&A – Anna Holmes, Jezebel.” PR Week. 4 June 2007: 12. Print.

Timetoast. “Annotated History of Gawker Media” Gawker Media” Timetoast., n.d. Web 20 March 2012. < http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/2561>

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/&gt;.

“Celebrity, Sex and Fashion for Women”

This is how media outlet Jezebel.com frames its in its tagline. The blog, a part of the Gawker Media sites, is specifically targeted towards the active Internet user of the digital age.  This blog will focus on analyzing on how the website defines what it means to be a female blog, exploring the different type of content. This blog will further explore the history of topics like celebrity gossip and women’s health issues in other forms of media. The overall question of the blog is how Jezebel chooses and presents its topics to make it a “female website” and if the content is driven by women’s interest, or constructed to fit some idea what women like.  Posts will begin with an exploration of the long history of the word Jezebel, explanation of website themes and the role of social media in women’s communication.

Like Jezebel itself, this research will draw on a variety of sources. Some of these sources will be digital sources, including articles about Jezebel and other female-targeted blogs, such as  some of the research on the “mommy-blog” phenomena.  Research about the role of social media in female education, as well as digital media as information sources will be included. Many of those sources will be news articles, blogs or poll information from organizations like Pew.  Additionally, the blog will source from journal articles that discuss the appeal of different topics to women, and the history of women’s media.  Other information may include input from peers about Jezebel.

I chose this topic for several reasons.  The first is that I am admittedly and avid Jezebel (and Gawker) reader. I have found myself wondering about just how the editors manage to posts stories about exactly what I am interested in. Those thoughts formed the basis of the idea for this blog, breaking down what exactly they talk about on Jezebel, and how it is so well targeted that it appeals to me as the intended audience.