Nick Denton Diagnoses Narcissism


Gawker boss Nick Denton sounds like a remorseful Dr. Frankenstein in an interview in the latest issue of Media Magazine, a little-read but not bad glossy from MediaPost (Contributors this month include Paul Ford, Maura Johnston and Anil Dash). It appears all of Mr. Denton’s Internet creations have become self-obsessed little terrors.

For instance, his bloggers.

“Maybe I couldn’t get a writer out of bed in the morning, but the readers could,” he said. “They’d be emailing in the morning saying, ‘Where are the posts?’ The page-view system panders to a writer’s giant narcissism in a way that no manager ever could.”

Rousing self-obsessed writers might in fact be all a reader’s good for, according to Mr. Denton, who once lauded the commentariat. (They drive traffic! They’re a talent pool!) Now, the commenters are so ghastly he’s afraid of them.

“You can’t talk to your regular readers,” he said. “The core audience is hyper-empowered, and they speak in your comments. It’s frankly terrifying to push through a change these days. You will have this collective scream of ‘Why wasn’t I consulted?’”

When Gawker’s audience was smaller, Mr. Denton used to pitch it to advertisers as an influential one. But being “influencers” led to nothing but egomania.

“All this talk about influence has gone to the heads of the influencers to a point where they think that they are the sole source of legitimacy and enduring popularity, that they are the conduit through which all media expansion needs to occur,” Mr. Denton said.

“People are so earnest about their influence,” the interviewer replied.

“We had this brief period of web irony. Now irony is dead again. You can’t afford to be ironic,” Mr. Denton concluded.

Now where have we heard that one before?


Nick Denton Diagnoses Narcissism