Archiving the alternative press threatened by wealthy buyers
To start our collection, we used Archive-It to crawl the entirety of Gawker.com, which we conducted amidst speculation that its archives might be purchased by a hostile party. Reported suitors have included Peter Thiel—who bankrolled the legal campaign that ultimately crushed the site—and more recently Mike Cernovich, who the site once described as a “D-list right-winger.”
We also captured a copy of L.A. Weekly shortly after its new owners—the identity of whom was initially concealed, even from its employees—restructured the operation and eliminated most of the writing jobs. At the time, one former employee published a short article titled “Who Owns L.A. Weekly,” which has since been removed from the site—though you can still view the version we captured. Since our crawl of the site, former employees have reported that stories are being "republished," validating our concerns about the integrity of the archive.
In these cases, and with all future sites added to this collection, the crawls we initiate through Archive-It will not just appear on our collection page, but will also be fed into the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is often the first stop for researchers seeking content that is no longer available online, so ensuring these sites are available there is an important way to reinforce the notion that this material is not irretrievably gone.