Jezebel, the pioneering in-your-face feminist website, is getting a second life. The publishers of indie music magazine Paste have purchased Jezebel and sister site Splinter, with plans to resurrect both titles.
Josh Jackson, cofounder and editor in chief of Paste, said the company acquired both titles on Monday, with plans to begin publishing new content on Jezebel as soon as possible. Splinter, which was shuttered in 2019, will be up and running in 2024, ahead of what is anticipated to be a highly consequential — and bruising — presidential election.
The news comes less than a month after G/O Media, citing “economic headwinds rattling [the media] industry,” shut down Jezebel and pink-slipped nearly two dozen staffers, including G/O Media editorial director Merrill Brown, who left the company.
Jackson told The New York Times that he had been in touch with some Jezebel writers and plans to have new content on the site as soon as Wednesday. But as of noon ET, the stories on the homepage were unchanged from early November.
Writer Anna Holmes launched Jezebel as a sister site to Gawker in 2007, a full decade before the #MeToo movement, powered by social media, began to chip away at an entrenched but calcifying patriarchy. It quickly became a must-read for a young generation of third-wave feminists who gravitated to its bracing commentary on gender and racial politics. And its demise spurred a series of wistful obituaries and earnest think pieces. In an interview with NPR, Holmes characterized the site’s 16-year life span as “a good run” and noted that “a lot of the subjects and the tone [of Jezebel] embedded themselves into the DNA of more traditional or mainstream publications.”
But the roiling political climate in the wake of the end of Roe has recentered women’s rights in the Zeitgeist. Jackson told The New York Times that the “idea of there not being a Jezebel right now just didn’t seem to make sense.”
G/O Media shut down Jezebel after talks with more than two dozen potential buyers fielded no realistic offers, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller said in an email announcing the site’s dissolution. Jackson said he was not among those who had kicked the tires on Jezebel.
He co-founded Paste in 1998; in 2011 it was acquired by Wolfgang’s Vault, which restores audio and visual concert recordings and also sells music memorabilia. Jackson declined to say how much he paid for Jezebel, but confirmed it was an all-cash offer.
Paste magazine is ad-supported, but the path to profitability for Jezebel is unclear. The site has struggled financially under the tyranny of the internet’s programmatic advertising model that keeps blue chip advertisers from appearing next to content that could be deemed controversial. And Jezebel’s founding editorial ethos was speaking uncomfortable truths to the prevailing power structure.