They Eat Their Young

In the course of discussing N+1 editor Keith Gessen’s new novel over IM a few days ago, a friend pointed me to this month-old Nick Denton Gawker post detailing ex-Gawkerite Emily Gould’s romantic entanglements with a number of New York writers, including, eventually, Gessen. It’s overlong, semi-rambling, and fairly cruel in an almost shockingly pointless way. (It’s pretty telling that the commenters, some of the most jaded on the internet, are almost all appalled by Denton’s post.) It’s also pretty much riveting, at least for anyone who (like me) is somewhat entranced by the endless Park Slope literary navel gazing propagated by the New York Magazine-New York Observer-Gawker three-headed New York City media dragon.

Seems to me that posts like these are what happens when a city’s media has nothing to cover but itself. DC’s media has grown more self-referential in recent years, especially with the rise of a semi-insular blogosphere which gives writers more latitude to discuss their friends and the general goings on in the city. But in the end, most of us are here to cover politics, or maybe some other city business. You can only go through so many bloggy insider references before you have to go back to commenting on the war, health care, tax cuts, and Obama’s bowling scores. New York, on the other hand, only has itself to write about, and so a segment of the NY media establishment seems to be perpetually collapsing in on itself, a self-fucking, self-eating black hole. It’s a laptop-wielding, Ivy League, collective Ouroboros. It produces some great journalism, not to mention some delicious gossip, but just as often it’s also a rather nasty sight.