By Andrea Kenner

Whether or not you consider Gawker to be a “news” site, the folks at Gawker clearly think it is. I agree with them.

Gawker has a business model and a strategy that works very well for them: “publishing the stories that others won’t touch.” According to a recent post on LifeHacker, a Gawker sister site, Gawker pulls in an audience of 20 million people from the United States each month.

Another Gawker sister site, Gizmodo, broke the news on April 19 that they had obtained an iPhone 4 prototype from someone who found the phone in a bar. Gizmodo knew that they had a huge story on their hands. But, since their site is published in blog format, newer stories would have quickly pushed the iPhone story down on the page. To solve that problem, they stopped publishing new items for a couple of hours, according to the LifeHacker post.

That solution helped Gizmodo get through the crush, but as the LifeHacker post put it, “How ridiculous! In any sane medium, a story as powerful as that, one which was drawing more than 90% of the site’s traffic, would be given commensurate real estate; and it wouldn’t require a hack to keep the item prominent.”

Gawker’s long-term solution was to develop a new page layout that turns “every page into a front page.” Each story and its visual elements will take up more screen real estate. The “blog scroll” will be detached from the story and shifted to the right.

Nick Bilton, a columnist at the New York Times, wrote about the announcement in the Bits  column on December 1. Bilton said that the impact of the change would likely be large because of the size of Gawker’s audience. “Whether the goal is to highlight important stories or attract new advertisers, the blog is clearly about to go through a transition similar to what newspapers experienced over the last century,” Bilton said.

 

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