Tone: The NYT is the newspaper of record and its headlines (on Wednesday, July 18, 2012) reflect the seriousness with which it takes the news: “6 Israelis Killed in Bulgaria;” “In Its First Penalty, Consumer Agency Fines Bank.” By contrast, the tone of the headlines on Gawker is much more lighthearted: “The Best Photographer on Instagram Got Banned for Posting Boobs” and “You Know Who the Highest-Paid TV Actress Was Last Year? Sofia Vergara.” The tone on Gawker seems much more suited for a younger generation that is more attracted to general human interest stories than hard-hitting national or international news.
Subject matter: Gawker made no attempt to cover any breaking news of the day, whereas the NYT was completely topical and thorough. Both sites covered politics and economics, but Gawker’s coverage was completely derivative of other news sites. For example, Gawker had an article under the category of “Unemployment” titled, “Men Are Getting All the Jobs Again, Thank God.” The heart of the article was a quote attributed to the Los Angeles Times providing the statistic that men have landed 80% of the 2.6 million net jobs created since the end of the recession in June 2009 – sprinkled with some commentary. By contrast, the NYT had front page articles on the Federal Reserve and the IMF with first-hand reporting and quotes from key players. The same was true of their respective political coverage. The NYT had a story on Romney being his own barrier to income tax disclosure with quotations from a senior campaign aide on the record. By contrast, Gawker, under its “Election 2012” coverage had a story about John McCain’s comment that Sarah Palin was a better candidate than Romney, which quotes a McCain interview with Politico and adds commentary.
How presented: NYT articles are very lengthy and well-researched and extensively reported. Gawker articles are short, punchy and to the point. Gawker’s placement of articles emphasizes pop culture and human interest, whereas the NYT emphasizes the weighty news of the day, including foreign coverage. The one identical topic covered by both sites was a review of the new Batman movie. This review was Gawker’s top story; for the NYT it was toward the bottom of the middle section, but did have an accompanying photo.