Why We Joined Gizmodo Media Group (GMG), Explained » VSB

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Why We Joined Gizmodo Media Group (GMG), Explained

VSB

 

WAIT WHAT!!!! WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN???

The deal became official last Friday (June 30th), but it had been in the works for four months.

I NEED A MINUTE OR TWO TO SIT DOWN.

Sure. Take all of the time you need. I’ll be here.

***two minutes pass***

Ok, I’m back.

Better now?

Maybe? I think so?

It’s cool. Trust me, I’ve had dozens of similar moments over the past calendar year. Even now, while writing this, I feel anxious. Not a bad anxious though. More of a surreality anxious.

I have so many questions.

I have so many answers.

I don’t know where to start.

That’s fine. I’ll start for you.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve been approached by several different entities interested in some sort of partnership. Some wanted to merge us with already existing platforms. Others were interested in creating something new. Univision was one of those entities, and we believed that joining them was the best opportunity for us.

Univision though? That’s a surprise.

Not if you’re aware of the business of digital media. In the past year and a half, Univision acquired Gizmodo Media Group (GMG) — home of Deadspin, Jezebel, Fusion, The Root, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, Gizmodo, and Kotaku — and also has a 40% stake in The Onion (which includes the AV Club and Clickhole). These are some of the most popular and beloved spaces on the Internet, and we’re going to be a part of that ecosystem. Specifically, we’re going to be a vertical of The Root. VSB will still be VSB, though.

So you’re still going to run VSB?

Yes. Only now we’re going to be Univision employees.

So basically you’re getting paid to do something you’ve been doing for free for nine years?

Exactly!

So…while I understand that, why even partner? I mean, you all seem to be doing pretty well already. You already got a book deal and a gig at GQ, and both you and Panama seem to get invited all over the country to speak. Why not just remain completely autonomous?

Both Panama and I have had ambitions to grow VSB, and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to do that. We currently get around two million unique visitors per month — a far cry from the day when I did a celebratory Harlem Shake the first time we cracked 100,000. But we are a staff of one and a half people — me and Panama (whose day job limits how much time he’s able to devote to VSB). That’s it. Which means that along with writing and editing, we’re responsible for all of the logistical and administrative duties necessary for maintaining VSB. That means (sometimes) reading and (sporadically) replying to the hundreds of emails we get per day, monitoring each of VSB’s social media accounts, moderating the thousands of comments we receive, and the rest of the daily and weekly responsibilities I’m neglecting to mention. And doing all of that shit takes time.

For instance, you may have noticed that our content has decreased in frequency over the past few months. That’s because we’ve had to devote time and energy to all of the conversations — emails, texts, phone calls, and meetings — regarding this deal. (Plus, I’m writing a book, which obviously requires time and attention too.)

Basically, as long as one and a half people were required to do the jobs of seven or eight, our potential for growth would always be limited. With this deal, however, we’ll be able to focus our attention on being creative, since GMG and The Root have those administrative infrastructures in place. And we’ll have access to Univision’s amazing resources. (Which means we’ll be able to do podcasts, short videos and more panels and events.) And we’ll have a budget to pay writers actual competitive rates instead of the bite-sized Snickers and lapdances from Panama we offer now. (Which means you’ll see more of us and more of people like Alex Hardy and Shamira Ibrahim.) And Panama is leaving his job to work full-time on VSB now too. (And neither of us will have to move anywhere. He’s staying in D.C. and I’m staying in Pittsburgh.)

Shit, Panama is leaving his job? Isn’t he a government employee in D.C. with a government-employee-in-D.C. salary and benefits?

Yes.

Wow. That’s major.

It is.

So, you’ve told us about all of the positive aspects of this deal. What are the downsides?

Well, I wouldn’t quite call it a downside, but while the content and tone of VSB won’t change, we’re going to be fully integrated into GMG’s Kinja system, which means the comment section will change considerably. But, if the people who comment regularly here sign up with Kinja, the change will be more aesthetic than foundational. It’ll take some adjustments, but we still should be able to maintain the same robust community we do now. When we find out more about that integration process, we’ll let you all know. Probably some time next week.

Also, we’re giving up control of something we created nine years ago and have been nurturing since. Even though this is the best possible situation for us, it still feels disconcerting. Like sending your kid away to college or something. But that’s something we need to deal with ourselves.

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I know there will be people who’ll consider us to be sellouts. Not many, but some. Fortunately, we’ve already heard some of that — each time one of us writes something even remotely critical of another Black person (particularly a Black male), we hear everything from “VSB is controlled by Zionists” to “them niggas were bought by NBC” — so we’re used to it.

Anything else?

Just thank you to everyone who’s supported us through the years. People who’ve read and shared our pieces; people who’ve inspired and influenced our work. Naming each of you would take another 100,000 words, so just know that we love and appreciate you all.

Wow. This was a lot.

It is, right?

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

    Congrats but please do not use kinja for commentaries. It is shid!

    • Brown Rose

      Yup they are terrible. The comments will be different too. More trolls.

    • NonyaB?

      Exactly. I really wish that had been pushed into the deal. Kinja’s the worst commenting system I’ve ever seen.

      • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

        It discourages new commentators.

    • D-Nice

      Why can’t VSB use Disqus? Onion AV Club was also bought out by Univision/Gizmodo and kept Disqus. Not that any commenting platform is perfect, but Disqus is light years better than Kinja (ugh).

    • DizzyLizzyGyal

      Kinja has legit ruined some of my favorite sites for me :(

    • Lamar Latrell

      Seriously. I love the comments here as much as the articles, but boy, if it’s kinja, I may just stick to the rss…

  • KMN

    Wow this is really awesome!! And a lot to take in. And that’s REALLY nice that PJ can quit his 9-5 to make this a full time job.
    Shoot yall inspiring me to go do what I want to do instead of what I’m doing. Thanks, good luck and fucking congratulations on this new move!!

  • Kat

    Man…..

    • KMN

      Aww @disqus_qLZ04hna3l:disqus that Man don’t read very happy :(

      • Kat

        I ain’t. I’m happy for them but for me. Man…

        • Kas

          Yep

        • KMN

          I just read your post about change. I understand. But we both know they worked hard. They’ll remember us and hopefully take our opinions to heart cuz yall were there before Univision lol

          • Kat

            I overstand.

    • Lea Thrace

      my sentiments…

      (but still happy for Champ and PJ)

      • *Starts singing “Hey Jude”…

      • Kat

        Exactly always want a black man to prosper. I’m sad though. Ain’t gonna lie. It’s going to be different. Life evolves but I ain’t ready for change. Maybe next year or three.

    • Damon Young

      turn those frowns upside down

      • Kat

        Brotha…Ima try. Let me know when baby girl runs her first Boston at that Spades table, that will make me smile..lol

  • MsSula

    Congrats on the acquisition! It’s always good when hard work can be leveraged into something lucrative. So way to go guys!

    However, it feels a little bit like when your favourite neighborhood spot goes all mainstream and hipster on you. Let’s hope it does not change the dynamics of the comment section which to me is as vital as the articles on this platform.

    So does it mean the VSB BBQ can now happen??? :-)

    • Damon Young

      “So does it mean the VSB BBQ can now happen??? :-)”

      This actually might be coming soon

      • Young Olu

        DOPE!

        • KMN

          I’m not trying to shoot a shot but goodness you’re beautiful!! IJS.

          Carry on yall! :)

          • MsSula

            Aren’t you all boo-ed up Miss KMN?? Loll!

            But I do concur, young Olu is a sight for sore eyes on a friday afternoon.

            • KMN

              LMAO I am but he’s still beautiful lmao. I call it like I see it…lolol

            • Kas

              Aren’t you all married up? I know Olu is, so I won’t bother pointing out he is over 6′ tall weighing about 240.

              • KMN

                Wait I ain’t married up…dang why you selling him like that though?
                Make me wanna put him in my side pocket just in case roflol

                • Young Olu

                  My broda Kas coming through with the facts. LOL

                  • Kas

                    You know I try to keep the comment section interesting.

                  • KMN

                    lmao…you’re located where? just for fact checking and all lolol

                    • Young Olu

                      Music city. join my VSB comments shenanigans groupme here -> https://goo.gl/HsBXcu

                    • KMN

                      UGH the plantation won’t let me be great and view this link…in a min though lmao

                    • Blueberry01

                      Ayyyeee, TN!

              • MsSula

                Ha ha ha. Thanks for the important details.

                I would say something about being full and a menu but you know, I will let it go.

                • KMN

                  huh you better than me roflol I woulda tole it ALL LMAO

                • Young Olu

                  you can say what you really want in here. no judgement zone -> https://goo.gl/HsBXcu

            • Young Olu

              Thanks MsSula!

          • Young Olu

            Preciate that KMN!

      • MsSula

        That’s the idea!!!!

      • Quirlygirly

        Don’t tease us Damon. This is the longest planned BBQ evah!!!

      • Don’t tease us Day Moan

      • mmmmm….

        Zionist funded pulled pork sounds like a ride on a runaway train to flavor town.

        • Lea Thrace

          never change Wu!

      • Zil Nabu

        Will there be gluten free buns?

        • MsSula

          And room temp alkaline water?

          • Zil Nabu

            Yes! That too. He better act like we’re bougie.

          • siante

            and kale?

      • 44isnojoke

        Ok so here’s the thing…flights are expensive if not booked in advance (14 – 21 days) I’m down but you can’t pop up on Tuesday talmbout IT’S GOING DOWN THIS FRIDAY!! K!? Thanks!

        • miss t-lee

          You wrote all of this, so I didn’t have to. Preciate ya.

          • 44isnojoke

            I do what I can! And if they ack funny we will make it a TEXAS VSB bbq. Come thru TX!! Cuz brisket!

      • miss t-lee

        Don’t play with my emotions.

        Also, you better give us ample planning time. I’m so sincere.

      • Jennifer

        I’d like to nominate DC as the BBQ location. We have Panama and NYC is so typical.

        • Mr. Mooggyy

          I second this motion!

      • Wild Cougar

        I’ll go. Are you gonna be nice to me? I won’t ask you to dance if you promise not to give me the stink eye. OK? I’m bringing bourbon.

    • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread

      “However, it feels a little bit like when your favourite neighborhood spot goes all mainstream and hipster on you.”

      Next thing you know, instead of Damon Young and Panama Jackson, we’ll have Winklevoss lookalikes David Young and Perth “Australia” Jackson credited for creating Very Educated Brethren.

  • Ess da 5’6″

    I’ve never used the Kinja system for commenting. What is their approach to “fuck” and other assorted curse words? Will folks get clapped for using “nicca” or “nucca”?

    • Quirlygirly

      QTNA

    • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

      Kinja will have you in greys forever.

      • Ess da 5’6″

        Greys? What that mean?

        • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

          When you make a comment it does not automatically appear. It is a background comment especially for new commenters. You have to rely on a moderator or an established commenter for your comment to appear.

          • Ess da 5’6″

            Yo! So all of our 1817410140 comments and 108469961 upvotes don’t transfer?

            • Mr. Mooggyy

              QTNA!

            • Lea Thrace

              NOAP. You become a newbie again. YOU BECOME NOTHING!

            • Cheech

              Seniority? What seniority?

              • Ess da 5’6″

                Cheech! How are you?

                And I know. We gets no respect. Ugh.

                • Cheech

                  Hey Ess! Doin alright. I should be back soon.
                  (I see there’s been recruiting. Don’t let them forget about me.)

                  • Ess da 5’6″

                    Never, Cheech. You’re never (and never will be) forgotten. Matter fact, I made a Cheech-Johnny Gill reference just the other day lol

  • Brown Rose

    Kinja…..uhm its kind of terrible.

    • Terrible is too kind.

  • Congrats! Glad to see y’all come up a little more. Keep shooting y’all’s shots!

    White trolls be like

    “Damon Young and Panama run VSB with George Soros’ money!”

  • Simms~

    Congrats guys. Never really comment anywhere else so not sure what to expect but I’ll still continue to scroll to the comment section, sometimes before even reading the article.

  • Lea Thrace

    Congrats to yall. Legit happy for you. Its a testament to Champ and PJs hard work.

    But im also sad. Cause its kind of the closing of a door (to open another). But a closing nonetheless. (I was also sad when the old vsb model got upgraded. Im sentimental like that)

    Also Kinja sucks. And the trolls are bad on Kinja. So I hope yall can work out an effective troll smashing system when the move happens.

    • NonyaB?

      Kinja’s the worst commenting system I’ve ever seen.

      • MsSula

        I don’t even know it. But everybody seems unanimous in its effed up status.

        • NonyaB?

          It makes Disqus look like gold standard.

          • Mary Burrell

            It’s worse than Disqus? We won’t be able to have fun anymore?

            • NonyaB?

              Yep. But Damon and the Roots peeps are claiming it’s no longer as bad, so a bunch of us have signed up/logged on in preparation.

              • Janelle Doe

                So thankful for all y’all early adopters working the kinka our for us.
                But wait maybe there will be no more lurking/ers
                *sad and somewhat curious face

      • Ess da 5’6″

        Oh no! All this chatter about Kinja is scaring me.

      • Young Olu

        come through comments shenanigans groupme https://goo.gl/HsBXcu

      • Mary Burrell

        So we won’t be able to talk about wiypipo and their cucumber casseroles?

        • NonyaB?

          We will; where there’s a will, there’s a way!

          • Mary Burrell

            I couldn’t log on to that Kinja

            • NonyaB?

              It is a bit of a pain. One way it to open an extra gmail/FB acct (especially if you don’t want to link any of your regular accts), then go to theroot.com and try to comment or star a comment. It’ll prompt you to login or join via Twitter/FB/Gmail and you select accordingly.

              • And you can always sign up for a burner account if you don’t want to join Kinja with your deets. But if you use the burner account option, then you have to save your password ’cause if you lose it, you won’t be able to sign in again with the associated username.

    • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

      The good/bad things is first time commenters are left in the grey and have to rely on others to get them out. So persons can be in the grey forever. But kinja sucks baddddddd

      • Wizznilliam

        Is that what it is? I still don’t know what the process of getting out of having all your comments hidden. Maybe I haven’t commented enough at those various sites. I don’t get it.

      • PurpleIntrovert

        So, we have to make sure we have a disclaimer, if we change our username or something?

      • Kas

        So much for changing you Avi name hourly

        • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

          Do not remind me. I am depressed as is

          • Mary Burrell

            Me too??

      • Mary Burrell

        This doesn’t sound good at all.??

    • CookieGugglemanFleck

      Kinja totally sucks. I was a LONG TIME Gawker commenter from its very inception. I made it through each upgrade to the new commenting systems until Gawker was disbanded. Now I’m no longer “approved”, my old username is no longer usable–the same one here–and Jezebel won’t approve me under my newer username. So, I won’t be able to register with this name. Boo.

    • Glo

      The trolls on Kinja are legit terrifying. Remember when they were posting all of that extremely violent, bloody ish for a long time? I actually had to take a break from Kinja sites for a couple of weeks.

    • Cheech
      • Mary Burrell

        Chechen, i will miss you you were cool.?

    • Val
  • jtreynol

    I’ve been avoiding getting a Kinja account for forever. Either way…Congratulations on your continued success.

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