Kotaku Editor-in-Chief leaves role after five months due to new direction

Posted on March 23, 2024

In October, Kotaku got a new editor-in-chief (EIC), Jen Glennon. However, after five months in the position she’s decided to leave. Why? According to Glennon, the higher ups have decided that Kotaku needs to “deprioritise news in favour of guides”, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz.

Glennon tweeted that she’s resigned from Kotaku and “Jim Spanfeller is an [sic] herb”. Jim Spanfeller is the CEO of G/O Media who own Kotaku, along with many other websites previously under Gawker Media. The herb mention, is a reference to a post mocking him, after writers for Deadspin, a sports blog, to “stick to sports”.

With many journalists facing layoffs and the rise of AI, it’s a shame to see Kotaku trying to pivot away from news. In a 2023 report from Niemanlab, places like Launcher, from The Washington Post, shutting down and terminating staff members after launching in 2019. GameSpot and IGN’s owners, Fandom and Ziff Davis laying off staff. Fanbyte is a “ghost ship” due to cuts made to the site. In 2022, G4 shut down after only re-launching in 2021.

In an article for PCMag, Jordan Minor writes that video games are an art form. Like other creative endeavours, without people critiquing it, “the video game community as a whole is so much poorer”. Because of these layoffs, there won’t be a “strong media that’s able to champion and critique that art”. Editors and writers for IGN formed a union earlier this year to continue to cover groundbreaking news. Due to the tumultious and decline of digital media.

Glennon’s letter to G/O Media’s executives states that the “current management structure and decision-making processes at G/O Media are not aligned with my values and goals for Kotaku”. And by changing Kotaku’s direction and de-prioritising news, it’s “fundamentally misguided”. Due to the current infrastructure of the site, this decision contradicts “months of traffic data”. And the “disregard for the livelihoods of the remaining writers and editors who work here”.

This isn’t the first time an EIC has left the site. Back in August of 2023, G/O Media fired Patricia Hernandez. As reported by Gamesindustry.biz, Hernandez said of leadership getting frustrated “at you writing about Tears of the Kingdom after it release [sic]”. The union for sites owned by G/O Media, tweeted that Spanfeller has a “blatant disregard for journalism”. And leadership wishes to “undermine the people who make these sites special and replace their work with slop”.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the expectation on Kotaku’s staff are to “create 50 guides a week”. These guides now show up on the side of Kotaku’s site. This previously housed the massive news stories and breaking news. Many staff members agreed on Glennon’s comments about this decision contradicting traffic numbers.

Since Pedestrian Group owns many of G/O Media’s Australian counterparts, Kotaku Australia isn’t following the same layout style. But, time will tell.