Gawker reporting

For over a year, I extensively covered Gawker Media’s legal battle with former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, which resulted in the company’s bankruptcy and sale to Univision.

Back in June 2015, I was the first to report on the threat that this invasion of privacy case posed to Gawker Media’s business:

Gawker in the fight of its life with Hulk Hogan sex-tape lawsuit

I dug into court filings in the case and discovered that Gawker was suing the FBI in an attempt to gain access to records related to the FBI’s investigation into Hulk Hogan’s sex tapes:

Dodging a Hulk Hogan trial (for now), Gawker investigates the FBI

Gawker wins lawsuit against FBI in Hulk Hogan case

In July, was thrust into a new controversy when it published, and then removed, an extremely controversial post about a media executive:

After outcry, Gawker removes post about media executive

Following the removal of the controversial post, Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Craggs and editor Max Read resigned in protest. Gawker CEO Nick Denton held a series of tense all-hands meetings, and I obtained recordings and detailed notes from the meetings:

Gawker editors Tommy Craggs and Max Read resign

Gawker’s Denton: ‘This is not the company I built’

The ‘Gawker tax’ is getting too high, Denton tells his staff

New Gawker will be ‘20 percent nicer,’ Denton tells staff

In September, I interviewed over a dozen former Gawker writers and editors in an attempt to better understand the company’s changing journalistic standards:

Gawker’s cruel summer

In October, I broke the news that Gawker Media’s president and general counsel had told staff that the company would probably lose the Hogan case:

Gawker president: ‘More like than not’ we’ll lose Hogan case

In November, abruptly laid off seven staffers and announced that it would relaunch as a politics site. This also spelled the end of Denton’s quixotic, years-long effort to develop an independent blogging platform called Kinja:

Gawker cuts seven staffers as it goes all politics

Changes at Gawker much bigger than just politics

Meet the new Gawker

The case went to trial in March 2016, and I flew down to St. Petersburg, Fla. to cover it. It did not go well for Gawker. The jury awarded Hogan an extraordinary $140.1 million in damages, and I looked at Gawker’s plan to appeal the ruling:

Jury awards Hulk Hogan $115 million as Gawker looks to appeal

Florida jury awards Hulk Hogan $25.1 million in punitive damages

Gawker asks judge to reduce or reverse $140.1 million jury verdict

Judge upholds $140.1 million verdict against Gawker

In May, I broke the news that Univision had considered investing in Gawker before the trial, and I dug into Gawker’s tax returns to break news about Gawker’s revenue and profit numbers:

Univision explored Gawker investment last year

Unsealed tax returns offer peek into Gawker’s finances

In June, I found an old pitch deck that detailed Gawker’s ambitious plan to develop and monetize its Kinja publishing platform. The strategy was derailed by the Hogan litigation:

Gawker’s alternate reality

Later in June, Gawker Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and put itself up for sale, in order to prevent Hogan and Peter Thiel — the billionaire investor who secretly funded Hogan’s lawsuit and other suits against Gawker — from seizing the company’s assets. From then on, I covered the Chapter 11 process:

Gawker Media files for bankruptcy

Gawker’s bankruptcy a powerful defense against Peter Thiel

Here are all the people suing Gawker

Bankruptcy judge lets Hogan continue suit against Gawker founder

Gawker founder Nick Denton files for bankruptcy

In August, Univision purchased most of Gawker’s assets at a bankruptcy auction for $135 million. Following the sale, Denton left the company and was shut down:

Univision buys Gawker Media for $135 million

Nick Denton to leave Gawker after Univision sale closes to shut down next week

Gawker founder Nick Denton says farewell as court approves sale to Univision

As a condition of the sale, Univision removed posts that were the subject of ongoing litigation, which upset Gawker staff. I talked to Univision executive Isaac Lee about the decision:

Univision deletes six controversial Gawker Media posts

‘Not possible’ for Univision to keep controversial Gawker posts online

In November, Gawker finally settled with Hogan for $31 million. One provision of the settlement prevents Denton from buying back the website.

Gawker reaches $31 million settlement with Hulk Hogan

Gawker settlement: Nick Denton needs Hulk Hogan’s permission to buy back