Gawker Media Rolling Out Redesign, The Daily Coming Tomorrow and NewsBeast Merged


Gawker, The Daily and NewsBeast, oh my. Three of the year’s biggest media launches so far have landed, albeit in different stages, on or around February 1, 2011, making for some vaguely exciting times on the internet, if you’re into that sort of thing. Taken together, the shifts indicate a committed move toward the web (which, duh) but also toward tablet readers specifically, as pictures are set to be bigger, and some even in 3D, while a historic newsweekly, treading water for years, pins its hopes to a young website, which inflates its readership numbers as one of those dreaded aggregators. But aside from What It All Means, how do the new or revamped publications look and work in practice? With Gawker we now know in part, with The Daily we’ll know soon enough and the new Newsweek is at least setting itself up to succeed. More inside Press Clips, our daily media round-up.

Gawker Goes Big: Ditching the reverse-chronological, vertical format they’ve become famous with, two of the nine Gawker Media blogs unveiled a matching new look today. Jalopnik, which covers cars, and io9, which is about spaceships or something, both launched this morning with a look long-available by adding “beta” before the Gawker URLs. It appears like this (or will when the flagship site switches over, any day or minute now):

Like any internet redesign, it will take readers some getting used to. But a quick spin around the new sites is pleasing to the eye: the text is big, the scroll is smooth and the headlines are charged with getting clicks, so expect to be more and more salaciously misled over time.

Also of note, only Facebook gets a share button on each article. “That’s by far the biggest social source of traffic for us,” Nick Denton told the Observer. And that’s echoed in the design, wherein it is assumed that readers will come in through the side, not through the home page, having been referred from sites like Facebook and, less so, Twitter and the rest. From there, compelling readers to click around onto new stories, listed directly to their right, is the key for writers and editors. The homepage is obsolete; the incoming link is king.

People will bitch for a minute, but it’s probably going to work. It’s going to work because Gawker sites have no delusions about being for small, insular groups who will read every post and follow a narrative. That can be there if someone wishes to find it, but more generally, these are sites for your mother, your uncle and that bored girl in a college lecture at once — those who can’t get enough of Facebook and will link to posts and forward friends emails as long as there’s a zany headline and/or crazy photo attached. Someday soon these people will buy iPads and see the sites that way. They will look shiny and beautiful. And when the time comes that everyone sees websites on little sleek screens — or even if that time never comes — people will still love big pictures.

The Daily Reckoning: Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper, meanwhile, almost no one has seen. That will all change tomorrow at an unveiling ceremony at the Guggenheim museum in Manhattan, where Murdoch will be joined by Eddy Cue of Apple. Tonight, Murdoch will host a more exclusive cocktail party at his apartment and give the thing a whirl. A few more details in the hours before we see this thing, via Media Memo:

-Some say it’s like the Daily Prophet, the moving newspaper in the world of Harry Potter
-The 3D features are still forthcoming
-“But there will be an audio feature so you can have stories read aloud to you. And there’s a crossword puzzle! And Sudoku!”
-It will be free for two weeks

This morning, Romenesko has the largest list of Daily employees since Press Clips did the same thing (twice). Daily Intel chimes in with reports of columnists like Soo Yoon on gossip, Dan Wolken on sports and Jessica Valenti on “politics, family and women’s issues.”

But talent or not, Evan Rudowski, the business development director for the Murdoch-backed digital publication called iGuide in 1995, is skeptical:

I can’t help but wonder about the similarities The Daily may share with our long-ago failed iGuide effort. I hope–mainly for the sake of the people working hard right now to make The Daily happen–that they’ll enjoy a different outcome. Yet here are the things I’d look out for…

Then Comes Marriage: Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast and Newsweek, as previously mentioned, have made it official. Here’s the press release, which reads, in part:

Tina Brown, a founding partner and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast, will serve as Editor-in-Chief of the combined entity, and Stephen Colvin, former President of The Daily Beast, will serve as CEO.

Sidney Harman said, “This is an exciting undertaking. We are convinced that the combination of Newsweek and The Daily Beast will extend the frontiers of read and heard news and of read and heard news opinion. Making the complex weekly news both comprehensive and comprehensible will be our mission.”

“I’m very glad we’re now on our way…” said Barry Diller.

Brown is hard at work luring writers, like the Observer‘s young, short-lived media reporter Nick Summers, but some bigger fish too. Women’s Wear Daily‘s Memo Pad reports on the hiring of Peter Boyer away from the New Yorker:

“Once I saw Tina, talked to Tina, thought about jumping onto this ride — whatever it was going to be — it was just so exciting,” Boyer drawled in his Mississippi accent of the move to The Daily Beast. “I asked my wife, she said I could, and I was gone.”

Joe Pompeo at Yahoo’s Cutline wonders if “Brown’s re-envisioned and re-designed” magazine can possibly come out when one source mentioned, “perhaps coinciding with the Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit on March 10 to 12.” That seems to be the closest anyone has come to a launch date, but those anticipating it and watching closely know better than to hold their breath.

Tips or curses are welcome: