At a panel discussion in NY this week about “the state of gossip in the digital age,” Nick Denton, proprietor of Gawker Media, participated with Clay Shirky, new media guru, Virginia Heffernan, Yahoo pop tech journalist, George Rush, former NY Daily News gossip columnist, and Sunny Bates, digital strategist. According to Capital NY Denton began the conversation by asking, “Does everyone here know that Anderson Cooper is gay?”
The discussion that followed reviewed the history of articles that discussed tip-toeing around the CNN host’s love life and Cooper’s own refusal to confirm or deny reports. One article referenced was a recent New York Times piece on the debut of Cooper’s new day-time talk show, “Anderson,” which discussed the awkwardness of leaving out details about his love life. Denton’s argument was that digital culture rarely forces these “open secrets” into the spotlight, while they dig through and expose others. He also noted the gap between what people on the inside know and what actually appears in media, as he predicts that this gap will close within the next five years.
Denton remarked to Capital that, “The real story about gossip on the Internet is how little has changed, and how little [Gawker's] been able to change things. I’m actually disappointed in how little we’ve done. … If you take the real measure of secrets that are out there, that are known by people on the inside, and what appears in the media, there’s still a gigantic gap.”
Gawker’s goal has long been to bring to light the true gossip that exists. Denton more recently edited the tagline on the site to read, “Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news.” Denton called for everyone to release secrets to the public and establish the truth of these claims, which sparked a lively debate between the panelists on what information is safe for the public to know and not know.