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Gawker Goes to L.A: West Coast Expansion Includes New Editor in Silver Lake, Possible Porn Column

To us rednecks over here in Angel town, Gawker has always been the pinnacle of New Yorkiness. It started in 2003 as an uber-meta NYC media spy, but even as it has expanded to national/international coverage and Hollywood gossip, the site has retained a distinctly East Coast attitude. That is to say: an amused, almost sympathetic disdain for everything West Coast, from Kardashian kulture to earthquake pride.

But it appears brave new editor-in-chief A.J. Daulerio may be trying to change all that:

On Monday evening, Silver Lake resident Cord Jefferson announced that from here on out, he will be serving as Gawker's first-ever West Coast editor.

[Correction, August 10: Former Gawker contributor Ryan Tate writes to inform us that L.A. journalist Richard Rushfield once held the title of West Coast editor. "I know because he regularly edited my stuff when we were both at Gawker on the west coast," writes Tate, who now works for Wired. Rushfield reportedly left his post at Gawker after just four months on the job.]

Jefferson also noted in his official Gawker commencement post that, as it happens (to use NBC's strange phrasing for Gabby Douglas' historic first), he's "going to be only the second black person with a full-time salary at Gawker in its nearly 10-year history (the first is Caity Weaver, who is half black)."

More from the big hello:

"Ahoy, ahoy. My name is Cord Jefferson, and today is my first day at Gawker. You may have seen some of my work on the site before (and maybe on Jezebel and Gizmodo, too), but today I'm coming on full-time as your West Coast Editor. I live in Los Angeles, and thus will be the first California staffer since Seth Abramovitch left in January. I'm also the first staffer (on record) to watch hardcore pornography in Fred Willard's favorite Hollywood peep show. You can read my full bio here and see a rundown of some of my other work here."

The Tiki Theater tour was a great initiation spank. But Jefferson's most important moment so far at Gawker -- especially given his fat new responsibility to singlehandedly rep Los Angeles on the nation's hippest (and heretofore New Yorkiest) news site -- was an L.A. love note he wrote in early July called "I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Flee Her: On Leaving New York."

With L.A., however, it wasn't love at first sight. Jefferson tells us he initially moved to Silver Lake many moons ago, but left after two-and-a-half years because he pretty much "hated it." Naturally, he moved to New York, and eventually relocated to Washington, D.C.

Absence made the heart grow fonder. "I'd come back and visit friends who were still here," says Jefferson -- and "every time I came back to visit, I missed it more and more."

Since crawling back, the young L.A. journalist has fostered a new appreciation for the sun-bleached southwest and her garish charms. From "I Used to Love Her":

"New York City is a beautiful and thrilling place, and I cherish every wandering night and icy morning I spent there. But I've grown to love LA even more, particularly because its underdog status, and the way people point and giggle at it from their brunch tables Back East, makes it simple for me and my neighbors to ground ourselves. Angelinos have a reputation for being abnormally casual-flip-flops to board meetings and that sort of thing. Perhaps we're not casual so much as we're resigned: It's easy to find the lighter side of life when nobody takes you seriously."

Jefferson had been working in L.A. as senior editor for GOOD Magazine up until June -- but we all know what happened to that one.

Athough his Gawker editors hadn't necessarily been looking for a permanent fixture on the West Coast, Jefferson says "they went with L.A. because I really pushed for it."

The pitch? "I honestly believe L.A. is in the middle of a renaissance," he says. "There's so much interesting stuff happening." Stuff that the New York media bubble, caught up in its own inflated sense of importance, often doesn't know exists -- or even purposefully ignores.

Former staff writer Seth Abramovich, who was fired in January after he made an N-word joke about Kanye West's mom, technically did his blogging from the West Coast. But according to Jefferson, his predecessor only had writing capabilities, whereas Jefferson will be editing and recruiting. (We've contacted Daulerio to confirm.)

His powerful new position seems to signal a Lewis & Clark style expansion of Gawker's Internet stronghold to the nation's second biggest, yet oft-neglected, urban market. As West Coast editor, Jefferson says he'll be "doing a lot of writing, but also editing some pieces and looking for new voices in California, and perhaps beyond. [It will] open up what Gawker covers a little bit."

Among the L.A.-centric items we may be seeing soon on the site, according to the new editor: a porn column.

"I want to be 100 percent clear: We're not trying to compete with trade magazines like the Hollywood Reporter," says Jefferson. Instead, he says his higher-ups were looking for "someone who can go to a porno theater at the drop of a hat." Doesn't get much more L.A. than that.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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