Understanding websites, through the lens of G/O Media's failures.

Illustration for article titled Understanding websites, through the lens of G/O Medias failures.
Photo: Willy Bearden (https://www.pexels.com/photo/dive-bar-earnestine-hazels-memphis-2837324/)

I want you to imagine for a moment, that the websites you love most aren’t websites at all, but rather places you’d go in the real world. A website is a restaurant, metaphorically speaking, where you are served content. Content comes in all flavors and forms, from the quick swipes of Snapchat, to the long form reporting of Mother Jones.

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Every restaurant has a unique feeling to it, and we all have different places we frequent. When I lived in Atlanta, it was a dive bar called Jack’s Pizza and Wings. In Nashville, it was Drifter’s BBQ. I’m the type of person who loves a dingy, hippie dive bar that serves greasy food, staff with a story, and a jukebox without asinine management restrictions. If you give me that kind of environment, I’ll be there every single day. (If you add a patio, it may even be twice a day.)

Deadspin, Jalopnik, Gizmodo, Jezebel, etc — they’re the casual little dive bar that serves wings, maybe has a few vegan options, and a $4 beer. It’s the kind of place you can go to every day, where if you decide to crack a joke in the comments section, it’s appreciated. It’s kind of like when you get to a point with the servers where you can say, “Your hair looks like shit today. You got the kids this week, huh?” Then she says back to you, “Your face looks fat as hell.” Then you both laugh about it, because you have that level of rapport with each other.

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More than that, you know the staff there, and appreciate the work they do. I feel fortunate that Patrick George allowed me to contribute to Jalopnik, even on a limited basis. It felt a bit like being in a cool local band, and being allowed to play on the patio; I don’t work there, but I got to feel like I was part of the team.

I don’t know David Tracy, Andrew Collins, Patrick George, Jason Torchinsky, Kristin Lee, Raphael Orlove, Elizabeth Blackstock, Rob Emslie, Bradley Brownell, Alanis King, Erik Shilling... uhm... those are the ones I can name off the top of my head. I’d just like the emphasize that for a moment, because there are zero other websites where I can rattle off the names of nearly a dozen writers. I could probably name a half dozen at The Ringer. Maybe.

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My point is, I don’t know these writers, but I like the voice they add. I come to Jalopnik because it feels more casual, and it’s fun to laugh about the shortcomings of what makes Jalopnik different. Editor Patrick George wrapped a Camaro around a barrier a few years ago; as a consequence of that, in the lead up to the Corvette launch, Jalopnik did everything except drive one — and you know what... I thought that was funny, so I kept coming back for the coverage. In an era where being first to drive something, and first impressions drive the click machine, I came to Jalopnik knowing there was a less than zero chance I’d be reading driving impressions of the most anticipated car in decades. I’m okay with that.

What G/O Media doesn’t seem to understand is that no amount of structure is going to make these writers fall in line and turn into a click machine. They’re not going to pitch your “SIZZLIN JALAPENO POPPERS”, they don’t want customers to place their orders on a tablet, they don’t want to change the menu, they’re not going to get rid of the 4-7 happy hour, and the patio will always be dog friendly.

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To put in bluntly: Jalopnik will never be Buffalo Wild Wings. Deadspin will never be Chipotle.

Let us not forget, we’re only in this situation because some rich asshole ordered his wings too hot, and then took a piss with hot sauce still on his hands. If you don’t wash your hands before you pee, and you’re eating hot wings, it’s going to feel like you got an STD, okay? Guess what else? It’s highly frowned upon to wash your dick in the sink at Drifter’s, and the pink soap inside the dispenser will make your taint itch for roughly 3-4 hours.

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The correct course of action would have been to wash his hands. Instead, he sued our favorite little restaurant, and the new ownership is ruining what once made this spot great: The fact that this is the kind of place where you feel comfortable enough to wash hot sauce off your dick in the sink. You probably shouldn’t, but you do it anyway.

I’d like to thank the writers and editors at Jalopnik, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jezebel, and all the other mini-sites here, for running the kind of place where I can have a cheap beer, eat some wings, and when I’m done, wash my dick in the sink without feeling like I’m some kind of weirdo.

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