news and opinion website is shuttering after its current owner G/O Media attempted to sell off the site.
G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller told staff in a memo on Thursday of the closing,
and other outlets report.
“As of this week we are making the very, very difficult decision to suspend publication of Jezebel,” Spanfeller said. “Few decisions over the course of my career have been as excruciating, and I want to make clear this is in NO WAY a reflection on the Jezebel editorial team.”
The site was started in 2007 by Gawker Media under the tagline “Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth.”
More than 20 staff will be laid off with Jezebel’s closing and additional G/O Media editorial restructuring.
“Over the longer term we will be adding new positions with updated or perhaps new goals in mind,” wrote in the memo.
Spanfeller said that G/O Media’s “business model and audiences” did not “align with Jezebel’s.”
“And when that became clear, we undertook an expansive search for a new, perhaps better home that might ensure Jezebel a path forward. It became a personal mission of Lea Goldman [G/O Media deputy editorial director], who worked tirelessly on the project, talking with over two dozen potential buyers. It is a testament to Jezebel’s heritage and bonafides that so many players engaged us. Still, despite every effort, we could not find Jez a new home.”
Jezebel’s interim editor-in-chief, Lauren Tousignant, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and wrote, “Will have more to say soon, but for now, I am just so pissed and so sad, but mostly I’m so pissed.”
Tousignant rise as interim EIC came after Laura Basset exited the company in August.
“I have reluctantly resigned from Jezebel, because the company that owned us refused to treat my staff with basic human decency,” Basset wrote at the time.
She wrote, on Thursday, “I’m obviously boiling and have too much to say on this subject. But for now I’ll just say my heart is with the entire Jez staff who just got laid off, including incredible abortion reporters at a time when the beat couldn’t be more relevant to national politics. Please hire them.”
Along with shutting down Jezebel, G/O Media’s editorial director Merril Brown is leaving the company.
Even though his company just closed the site, Spanfeller lauded Jezebel’s content.
“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.”
Spanfeller and private-equity firm Great Hill Partners acquired Gizmodo Media Group (previously part of Gawker Media) and The Onion from Univision in 2019. G/O Media’s brands are Gizmodo, The Onion, The A.V. Club, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Kotaku, The Root, and Quartz (which the company bought in 2022).
“The U.S. economy is expanding but the usual increase in marketing dollars that goes along with these types of numbers have not materialized,” Spanfeller said in the memo. “While we are not enjoying robust financial success currently, we are also not facing as dire a picture as many of our digital media brethren… The best we can hope to do here is to try new things in new ways with as much forethought as possible and to be as willing to accept when we miss the mark as we are to celebrate when we hit it.”
Online, Jezebel readers and admirers lamented the site’s shuttering.
“Jezebel, one of the last great news sites dedicated to gender and feminist issues, has been destroyed by corporate greed. This is a serious loss,” wrote writer Ella Dawson on X.
Journalist Molly Taft wrote, “i remember being on my laptop reading jezebel in my dorm room having my mind blown by the possibilities of what great journalism could look like. solidarity with one of the best, most ambitious sites out there, that inspired so many of us.”
“Love that site, hate that site, you cannot underestimate it's cultural impact,” activist Julie S. Lalonde wrote. “Feminist/Women's media is a shadow of its former self, both online and in print, and we are all worse off for it.”
Writer Lyz Lenz wrote, “Jezebel was the site that helped launch my career. It was a place where women could unabashedly write about culture, politics, and everything with voice, humor, and the whole range of human emotions. The fact that it was killed by inept men is truly a metaphor.”
“Journalism about women by women is actually profitable and the fact that men in media can't make money off of it is more telling about their inability to understand culture than anything else,” she added. “you are telling me in the era of the Barbie movie and Taylor Swift you cannot figure out how to make money off a website focused on women? that's a YOU problem not a culture problem.”