Jezebel Magazine Is Shut Down

Jezebel Magazine Is Shut Down

It’s hard to say that things are going well for G/O Media, which bought up the former Gawker publications in 2019. The company shut down Jezebel late last week, which is the right choice, despite what many shocked people on Twitter said. According to a memo from G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller:

Unfortunately, our business model and the audiences we serve across our network did not align with Jezebel’s. Still, despite every effort, we could not find Jez a new home.


The only way a network like G/O Media works is if it has an unbelievable amount of scale. Traffic is the name of the game. And as we’ve talked about often in this newsletter, scale is becoming harder to achieve. The thesis when G/O Media was formed in 2019 likely doesn’t exist today.

To compound that, there is an over-reliance on programmatic advertising across the entire G/O network. The issue with a site like Jezebel is that it’s just so easy to block the content with ad tech vendors. That’s basically what 404 Media summed up in this piece, where the author wrote:

Lauren Tousignant, Jezebel’s interim editor in chief, told 404 Media that Jezebel was told “brand safety,” the fact that advertisers don’t want to be next to the type of content Jezebel was publishing, was “one of the biggest factors” that led G/O to stop publishing the site and lay off its staff. Tousignant said that a couple of weeks ago, the ads sales team asked if it could remove Jezebel’s tagline—“Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth”—from the site.

“They took it off because they’re like, let’s see if this makes a huge difference,” Tousignant said. “So yeah, it was very much the problem here that no one will advertise on Jezebel because we cover sex and abortion. I know taking the tagline off was to see if the algorithm advertising would change. After it was removed one of the editorial directors was like, ‘I’m seeing an ad for J Crew for the first time ever, maybe this will be good.’”


Despite the Jezebel change, it’s obvious that G/O Media continues to spiral. As Adweek reports:

In his departure, [Merrill] Brown joins a growing list of editorial leadership that have left the company in recent months.

Dan Ackerman, who joined Gizmodo as its editor in chief in June, resigned last month, citing a poor cultural fit. Lauren Bassett, the editor in chief of Jezebel, resigned in August, also citing the work conditions. 

The company can’t keep editorial leadership. It continues letting go of additional people. And so, the question I have to ask is: when will G/O Media cease to exist? At some point, we have to accept that the way these publications are being run is highly inefficient. It’s just not working. The strategy is wrong; monetization is wrong; it’s devolved to using AI to create content for “search traffic.” It’s just not a good business.

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