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Gawker folds under weight of financial woes

Dan Taylor/Flickr

Dan Taylor/Flickr

A little over two months after blog Gawker was forced to declare bankruptcy, the website was forced to cease operations. Gawker Media’s six other property sites — Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku and Lifehacker — are able to continue under the control of Univision Communications who bought the properties for $135 million.

Gawker was founded in 2003 by Nick Denton and Elizabeth Spiers. The site became a noted hub for digital news, celebrity gossip, critiques of the media and other inflammatory content. The site was well known for oscillating between hard hitting critiques of major figures and incendiary, clickbaity material with questionable merits.

Over the course of the company’s lifespan, Gawker’s willingness to post videos and communications that had been obtained through illegal means courted them a great deal of controversy.

The site’s tactics eventually back to bite them when, in October 2012, the site posted a video of Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, having sex. The site refused to take the video down, citing the First Amendment. Commentators took the site to task for posting the video after Gawker had been vocally opposed the posting of nude photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence.

Hogan filed a lawsuit against Gawker, with the aid of billionaire Peter Thiel, whom had been outed in 2007 by the website. In March 2016, Gawker lost the lawsuit. Hogan was awarded $140 million.

Thiel’s efforts to earn such a judgment for Hogan were revealed by the New York Times, adding yet another wrinkle to the controversial tale. In the eyes of many, Gawker had committed an ethical violation by posting the video of Hogan, but Thiel’s one-man effort to end a media outlet has been seen as a potentially dangerous precedent.

Still, most Gawker employees will continue working for one of the six remaining Gawker Media websites.

“I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership — disentangled from the legal campaign against the company,” Denton wrote in an email confirming the sale to Univision. “We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism.”

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