Big changes are afoot at a major online media empire. On Tuesday a memo to staff announced Gawker—founded in 2003 to cover New York and the media—will now be a political website, the New York Times reports. “[Gawker] will ride the circus of the 2016 campaign cycle, seizing the opportunity to reorient its editorial scope on political news, commentary, and satire," founder Nick Denton said in a statement. Gawker heads compared the new tone to The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight. Meanwhile other Gawker Media sites will be going in "different, broader directions," according to Mashable. For example, Jezebel will shift from being feminism-focused to covering more celebrity and pop culture news. And sports site Deadspin will devote more resources to general men's lifestyle content.
The Awl reports the changes bring layoffs—seven full-time and eight freelance employees—and many staff were caught unaware. "We’re finding out who got laid off by looking at the list of disabled Slack accounts," one employee says. "They’re doing it one by one instead of a group thing." Gawker writers were apparently surprised by their new orders to "hump the campaign." According to Mashable, Gawker Media will be looking for venture capitol funding for the first time. And the Awl surmises the changes could be a way to look better to investors. It's been an eventful year at Gawker. The editorial staff unionized in April, and two editors resigned in protest after a controversial story was pulled from the site over the summer, Mashable reports. Just this week, a former employee published an in-depth look at the company's problems with women in Medium.