Less than a month after G/O Media announced that Jezebel — the feminist website known for its shrewd reporting and cultural commentary — was shutting down, the beloved publication has found a buyer. On Tuesday, Atlanta-based Paste magazine announced that it would be reviving the outlet, with Paste’s co-founder and editor-in-chief, Josh Jackson, telling the New York Times: “The idea of there not being a Jezebel right now just didn’t seem to make sense.”
The purchase was made three weeks after G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller, told employees in a memo that he had made “the very, very difficult decision to suspend publication” of Jezebel in light of ongoing financial challenges. Adding that the choice was “in NO WAY a reflection of the Jezebel editorial team,” Spanfeller explained that G/O had tried to sell the publication but “despite every effort, we could not find Jez a new home.” According to The Daily Beast, 23 G/O staffers were laid off, including Jezebel’s seven-person editorial staff and G/O’s editorial director, Merrill Brown.
— Ben Mullin (@BenMullin) November 9, 2023
Jezebel was founded as part of Gawker in 2007 as a sharp foil to women’s magazines. It was sold to Univision when Gawker shuttered in 2016 and had lived under the G/O umbrella since 2019, when private-equity firm Great Hill Partners bought a bundle of web outlets from Univision and formed G/O as a holding company. Jezebel’s folding came amid well-publicized high tensions between G/O Media and its editorial properties — most recently over G/O’s increasingly abundant reliance on AI, a strategy the company continued to pursue despite strong objections from its writers and editors. On top of that, Spanfeller reportedly started evaluating writers based on algorithmically driven “scorecards” that mete out points based on traffic and engagement, seemingly prioritizing quantity over quality. Staffers also complained that he blocked internal opportunities for growth while hiring and promoting his daughter within a year. In August, Jezebel’s most recent editor-in-chief, Laura Bassett, resigned, writing on X that “the company that owned us refused to treat my staff with basic human decency.” She is one of seven editors-in-chief to quit G/O this year alone.
I guess the cat's out of the bag. I have reluctantly resigned from Jezebel, because the company that owned us refused to treat my staff with basic human decency. I will love and support my writers til the end and am so grateful I got to shepherd this site through the end of Roe.
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) August 21, 2023
Of Jezebel’s run, Spanfeller wrote that “their urgent, breakthrough coverage of reproductive rights in this post-Roe era, as well as other key issues core to modern women, affirmed the brand’s storied legacy as the website that changed women’s media forever.” Despite shutting down its operations, he claimed he hadn’t “given up on Jezebel” — though his decision to offload its entire staff suggested otherwise. The site’s closure met strong criticism among readers and journalists, spawning countless emotional tributes.
Right now, Jackson told the Times, neither Jezebel nor Splinter, another shuttered G/O site that Pastealso purchased, has any employees. He plans to hire an editor-in-chief for Jezebel first and bring on some writers. He said he has spoken with some former Jezebel employees and he sees the publication as “the quintessential site for millennial women who grew up on this,” adding that “it’s a site that taught them what they could be.” He continued: “I want the same for Gen Z, and to bring in Gen-Z voices.”
This post has been updated.
An earlier version of this story stated that Jezebel’s 23 staffers were laid off. However, 23 G/O Media employees lost their jobs, including seven from Jezebel.
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