After a long battle with self-respect, dignity, and class, Gawker’s sense of Shame sadly passed away this week. It was 13 years old.
Born in 2002 to founder Nick Denton, Gawker’s sense of Shame has struggled since its infancy. For several years, the site’s sense of Shame was held in check, somewhat, as Gawker sought to dig up dirt on the media industry in Manhattan and elsewhere. However, faced with stiff competition from some of the more shameless outfits like TMZ, Gawker’s sense of Shame began to deteriorate as it sought to compete in a more depraved, cutthroat industry.
The first genuine signs of ill health came in 2006 with the Gawker Stalker, a feature that potentially gave real stalkers the tools it needed to chase down celebrities in real life. Nevertheless, over the next nine years, Gawker managed to tenuously cling to its shame while gradually eroding the boundaries between the public and private lives of celebrities, politicians, and other media personalities.
In more recent years, the health of Gawker’s sense of Shame has been in serious decline, as the site began to broaden its focus from public to more private individuals. It was eventually put on life support earlier this year, after Gawker outed the CFO of Conde Naste.
Yesterday, the site finally pulled the plug on its sense of Shame, ironically in the publication of its obituary for former GOP Senator, Fred Thompson, a fairly decent man with whom Gawker’s politics did not align. The site’s sense of Shame died quietly in the night.
R.I.P. Gawker’s Sense of Shame. We look forward to — and fear — what the site is capable of without being tied to a sense of class or personal ethics.