Deadspin’s Takeover on Twitter: What Was the Point?

There’s no denying that Gawker Media has a certain edginess that draws readers in like addicts.

As one of the leading click bait sites, Gawker does a lot of things to give it that reputation: they swear in articles (gasp), they rally against the status quo when others back down, they write lists about everything from Lost characters to pie. They even split fans of America’s pastime and wreaked havoc with the whole Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year when they bought a vote from ESPN’s Dan LeBatard. They are not strangers to controversy, and people either adore or hate them for it.

Having earned such a strong following (47 million monthly users in the U.S. alone) and extreme levels of engagement, it’s easy to picture some marketing teams spending countless hours stressing over how to tap into that sassy, no bullshit, screw societal norms attitude.

The Atlanta Hawks decided to just eliminate the middle man.

Deadspin Twitter takeover Atlanta

Deadspin’s Drew Magary tries to rebrand the Atlanta Hawks as the “Death Hawks” on their official Twitter account.

Earlier today, the team decided to hand over their Twitter feed to Deadspin (Gawker’s sports site) writer Drew Magary (as well as allowing him to sing both the Canadian and American national anthems before the Hawks game against the Toronto Raptors).

Magary brought his usual balance of wit and astute observational skills to the feed, evidenced by his repeated attempts to make “CAW” the team’s new slogan, as well as his insistence on rebranding the team as the “Death Hawks.”

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Te’o, Thamel and Deadspin: How the Web Outreported the Traditional Media

With the unraveling of one of the strangest sports stories of recent memory still leaving much to be explained, in the wake of Deadspin breaking the story that Notre Dame Fighting Irish All-American linebacker Manti Te’o’s inspirational girlfriend was, in fact, fake, it strikes a few questions on how something like this could go on for so long.

The circus surrounding this issue started just yesterday when Deadspin, an online sports blog that is part of the Gawker Media family, revealed that Te’o’s girlfriend, who passed away of leukemia just six hours after his grandmother had also passed away, has no record of ever existing. Despite being a graduate of Stanford, having been in a serious car accident that hospitalized her, and having been admitted to a (unnamed) California hospital for months for leukemia treatment, and ultimately passing away, Deadspin journalists’ Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey found no paper trail for Lennay Kekua having done any of these things. Or even being an actual person.

Photo by Flickr user JamesChicago. Published under Creative Commons.

Photo by Flickr user JamesChicago. Published under Creative Commons license.

While there has certainly been swirling tidbits of gossip and speculation as to why such a hoax was pulled off, let’s leave that alone and look at how such a story proliferated through the mainstream media for so long.

Remember, this wasn’t just some hoax that didn’t carry any weight outside of the Notre Dame community. No, the death of Kekua garnered national media attention, especially after Te’o spoke of her making him promise to continue playing no matter what happened to her. That same narrative of Te’o overcoming great amounts of grief (some of it real, as a result of his grandmother’s passing, keep in mind) followed him throughout the entire season, on his way to seven major collegiate football awards, and a Heisman nomination. There is no denying Te’o was a skilled player, yet you must still question whether that emotional aspect played into the minds of voters.

So, again, how did such a story receive so much coverage without this information of Kekua’s non-existence coming to light earlier? There are a few significant problems in the reporting of the story that can be looked at here.

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