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October 05, 2006 - Image 18

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-05

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6B-The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 5, 2006

the b-side

Stop, gawk: Alum Jessica {
Coengoe tothe airAs the outgoing editor o
Coen goes to the fair Gawker, the popular Inter- Th
net celeb news magazine, "Se
Jessica Coen must deal A
By Punit Mattoo JC: Yeah,Viacomrented a unit on inconsequential.It's alot of backfight- with a lot of crap. lyrics
Daily TV/New Media Editor the corner of Main and 11 Mile, but ing and it's a sneaky place to be. It's a Thank goodness she has all t
then they came to their senses. lot ofjealousy amongstyoung writers an Pod to tune out the love.
TMD: Hey, how are you doing? and reporters. Not a lot of trustworthy shrill cries of young Hol- it's c
JC: I'm fine. TMD: Of course. While you were people, but you find your people, and lywood despairing at the moo
at Michigan, what'd you major in? those you can trust and work with. latest sighting of Lindsey
TMD: All right, I guess the big JC: I was an English major, and I But you know when all these nasty Lohan's down there. Ho

4

e National Journey
cret Meeting" "Don't Stop Believing"
fantastic song: smart Does this really need
s, great orchestration, explanation?
he stuff music snobs
More importantly,
atchy and a total
d-lifter.
t~hlp ,,~t y
A Chip
er and Over" Jesosc
this song
n't make
dance just
le, you've
no soul.

news is moving to Variety ...
JC: Vanity Fair.
TMD: Fuck, I meant Vanity Fair.
Great start to the interview. How'd
that come up?
JC: Well, I've been working for
Gawker for over two years. That's a
really long time for someone to stay
at Gawker. All thebig names are very
intent upon building up their websites,
some more intent than others, but
everyone wantsto get involved in this
crazy Web thing, and when they're
looking for people to staff their web-
sites, it's kind of like "What sites are
we looking at right now?" Places like
Gawker, you know it's read by all the
people who work in that industry. A
significant amount of our readers are
in publishing. So when you're look-
ing for Web editors, you're gonna
look at a site like Gawker.
TMD: So, what exactly is gonna
be your role, then? Will you be cover-
ing media like at Gawker?
JC: We're relaunching with a
redesign before I even get in there,
and I'm gonna work on building it up.
Putting blogs, putting features and
pumping in fresh content, and getting
work from all our writers ...
TMD: All right, good deal. Well,
one of the main reasons we're inter-
viewing you is because you went to
Michigan. You're from here, too,
right?
JC: Yeah, I'm from Royal Oak
TMD: Dondero or Kimball?
JC: Oh my God, you actually
know Dondero ... Yeah. It just closed
down apparently.
TMD: Yeah, they were actually
thinking about putting "The Real
World" there.

did honors just because.
TMD: You didn't delay the deci-
sion by going to law school path?
JC: I wentinto Teach for America,
and I taught high school in South-
Central L.A., and then I figured I'd go
to the law school, but then I started
studying for the LSAT, and I was like,
"no" I don't regret it.
TMD: How was that experience
in South Central?
JC: It was intense. Haha, it was
very intense. The kids, once you earn
their respect and trust, which is not an
easy thing, they were fantastic. It was
very hard to leave them, but it's not
a good situation what's going on in
our inner-city schools, and the stuff I
was seeing,Icouldn't believe this was
happening in America ... It was eye-
opening experience and an incredible
working experience. I never intended
to do teaching; I just wanted to do
something good. It was post-9/lt and
I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
TMD: And the you made the
obligatory move to NY. Did the job
kinda put in context the stuff you're
covering now? I mean, it really
emphasizes how media's not the most
important thing in the world.
JC: Ha, yeah, of course.New York
media is like high school with a lot of
money.Everyone in New Yorkmedia,
when they were in high school, they
sat at the dorky table, but now they're
all big journalists and now they've
got money so they're even more catty.
They're reliving high school now
because they never got to be cool in
high school, but no, it's incredibly
frivolous. A lot of it does matter when
you're talking about like real news,
hard news, but when you're covering
Gawker and it's like 'Oh god, some-
one got a six-figure salary. Wow.' It's

things are being written about you,
you think back to South Central, and
realize nothing's that important.
TMD: Yeah, you guys got a lot
of flack for some of the things you
wrote, and especially for the Gawker
Stalker (a list of celebrity sightings
sent in by readers) being combined
with Google map images.
JC: Yeah, that was definitely
the biggest thing to happen. That
was my publisher's idea. It took a
long time to get the tech together
for that, and we never, in a million
years, anticipated the reaction that
it got. Because, I mean, we've been
doing Gawker Stalker since the site
launched. It's not a new feature. It
was being done two or three times
a week at a max. And then we add
a map, and do it two or three times
a day at max, and everyone thinks
we're encouraging people to kill
celebrities. It was a perfect example
of media hysteria where someone
first reports it incorrectly, and says
that it's done in real time and instan-
taneous, and then the AP picks it up,
and then itsgoes to the BBC, and then
George Clooney's angry. Really, at
the end of the day, they didn't have
the right grasp of what was going on
with it, and how it actually worked.
TMD: You said that making fun
of celebs is part of the job, but are
there any you really enjoy insulting?
JC: Like attack?
TMD: Yeah, well, you seem to not
like Chuck Klosterman too much,
and a couple weeks ago in an inter-
view I did, he talked about how much
he hates media blogs.
JC: Ha, well, you know Chuck.
If Chuck were 10 years younger,
he'd have a blog and be a superstar
blogger.

Sufjan Stevens
"Chicago"
This song has permanent
residence on my most-
played list. It's beautiful
and reminds me of driving
cross-country to move to
New York.
JC Chasez
"Until Yesterday"
I don't care what crap
this guy used to put out. I
kind of love this song, and
I'm OK with admitting it.
TMD: And I'm guessing 80 per-
cent of his audience has a blog, too.
JC: You know, I'm not saying
Chuck Klosterman isn't talented. His
talent is actually putting the dumb
stuff we say when we're stoned, put-
ting it on paper. That's his talent. I'm
not talented enough to write down the
things I'm saying ... Yeah, I guess
he's been a punching bag of late, but
it isn't personal. I mean,I've met him
before, but you know, Gawker's very
much about ... punching the people
in power, and Chuck Klosterman
is very much in power. I mean it's
not like we're abusing him. We're a
highly read website and our job is to
deflate egos a little bit.
TMD: Are you starting to see a lot
more Michigan kids trying to go out
and enter the media world?
JC: It's still very Ivy. Pretty much
everyone my age, everyone I know.
I'm like the novelty public school
kid, which I think is so funny since
Michigan's a great school. But yeah,
people don't think it's a great school
... It's such a boy's club with theIvies,
and Harvard's like a feeder for Man-
hattan, which is really annoying.

"Ov
If
does
you
a litt
got r

4

TMD: Any places you miss from
Ann Arbor?
JC: Yeah, colliders (from Rod's
Diner) ... I had a collider named after
me, but then my dad went a couple
years after graduation and it was gone.
Which is fair, I guess, since I left ...
I've yet to find an Irish pub as good
as Conor O'Neill's. Senior year when
you get all kinda Greeked out ...
TMD: Wait, you weren't...
JC: Yeah, I was. I was in Sigma
Kappa.
TMD: Really? I didn't see you as
a sorority girl.
JC: Most don't, which I guess is a
compliment ... You just have to find
the right people. ATO got shut down,
right?
TMD: Yeah, they got in trouble
with national chapter for trashing the
house or something ... Sigma Chi
and some sorority was kicked off
campus, too.
JC: My freshman year, right after
rush when we got our bids, that was
when Courtney Cantor died.
TMD: Yeah, wasn't she the girl

who supposedly fell out of her win-
dow at Markley while drunk?
JC: Yep, she's like my size and
somehow fell out a window. Every-
thing kinda tightened up everywhere
after that. I just remember walking
around Welcome Week completely
wasted ... I had a good number of
friends in the ATO house, and we
trashed the house, too. I specifically
remember people throwing 2x4s
through a wall.
TMD: So you contributed to ATO
getting kicked off campus.
JC: Ha, well not me personally.
They kicked them out after time.
TMD: Ha. You have any future
plans besides the Vanity Fair job?
JC: No, the whole reason you
take something like Gawker, which
is kinda insane and hard work, really
hard work. I have to leave parties by
10 p.m because I have to be writing
by 7 a.m. The only reason you take
a job like Gawker is to make a nice
jump to a more credible place. You
know,Vanity Fair's where I've always
wanted to work, and now it's full time
with them; this is my job now.

.3

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