John Cook, the longtime Radar contributor and the crackerjack TV reporter for the Chicago Tribune, is heading to Gawker. His first day is Monday.
He’ll be covering covering a variety of things: his old beat in television; he’ll respond to the day’s news when he’s got something to say; and he’ll be digging through FOIAs and courthouse documents for topics “that align with the stuff Gawker does,” something the Web site has long been after but hasn’t found anyone with the time or resources to do.
And Mr. Cook, a writer whom Nick Denton has coveted for some time, seems like he has finally relented to Mr. Denton’s way of thinking.
“Look, if the Daily News isn’t there in three years or in two years or in however many years it takes, there’s still going to be an appetite for the things they do and there will be places like Gawker to fill that role.”
Mr. Cook said that Gawker will pick up the slack from fading newspapers and magazines.
“Nick and [Gawker editor] Gabriel [Snyder] and I had been talking about—and this is Nick’s term—is iterative reporting, or iterative journalism,” he said. “One of the things we want to do is the kind of story that would be potentially a two-, a three-, a four-, or five-thousand-word investigative-type story that might be in a magazine or newspaper but do it one post at a time and toss seeds out and threads out and see what happens.”
He pointed to the Josh Marshall method.
“We don’t want to do things that are long,” he said. “That stuff doesn’t work. I was accustomed to doing the kind of thing where you spend six weeks reporting and working on a story and developing sources and finding new information and doing all the things you do for a 5,000-word story, and then you sit down, you collect it all and you write it, and it’s edited and published. You take that amount of work and the amount of the skill that it requires and here you’d just do it live. You start with whatever your first nugget of information is and put it out there and see what develops. It’s an opening-up-the-notebook kind of thing.”
Mr. Cook has been out of work ever since Radar folded last September. He was a longtime ally to Maer Roshan, so we wondered if he’s been sitting on his hands the last few months waiting and hoping if Mr. Roshan would be developing something else he could jump on board for.
“Radar went under nine days after my son was born,” he said. “I got a call, while I was on paternity leave, that said come in and get your stuff. And so the upside is, I’ve been able to raise him for his first couple of months. The downside is, I didn’t have any income from my side. Maer’s an editor at large for the Daily Beast and I’ve talked to him about stuff about the Daily Beast and freelance stuff. I haven’t been waiting for his next move.”
And would Gawker’s notoriously stressful pace finally drive Mr. Cook back to cigarettes? No, he assures, his Nicorette pack will take care of that.
“I’m chewing it right now,” he said. “It increases efficiency.”