“Recent profiles of Goldberg have made him seem more like a complex bad boy, who speaks “fluent hipster,” works out, quotes feminists, and is a rising digital player. But this is the result of rebranding aided by some aggressive PR. In reality, Goldberg is a volatile personality.
In my case, after I reached out to him in January, he called me relentlessly, while I was having a late dinner with friends, while traveling, and on spring break with my children. Once he called me three times in a row, while I was on the phone with another source for a different story. When I called back, he was furtive. He wanted to set the record straight about a story in the news, he just didn’t want to do it on the record.
In one of our calls, he accused me of being “compromised” because, he said, I had a friendship with Kosoff and was biased. He alleged I was part of a media conspiracy.”
A week after a puff-piece in Businessweek, the always terrific Lyz Lenz delivers the Bryan Goldberg profile Bryan Goldberg deserves. Bustle Media Group, Goldberg’s baby, has expanded to the point where it controls brands—The Outline, Gawker, Mic, etc—that matter and people that are nonqualiyingly good—Leah Finnegian, Brandy Jensen, Joshua Topolsky (on a good day), and Jeremy Gordon among them. And barring any additional train-wrecks, we appear to be approaching the eve of the Gawker reboot, Goldberg's self-described bid for Good Journalism accolades. As such, Goldberg seems to be in the middle of an attempt to reposition himself as the savior of digital media.
Except, Goldberg always has been and still is the problem at Bustle Media. Bustle Dot Com’s failures derive almost entirely from the top-down; a poor pay structure, a reliance on SEO clickbait, and an appropriation of feminist lifestyle coverage. This has nothing to do with the site’s central mission of female-focused lifestyle coverage, and important and good thing! Nor does it have anything to do with the people who write on Bustle, who I’d imagine are generally good journalists trying to survive in a bad industry. It’s all Goldberg.
As he attempts to expand his media empire beyond Bustle Dot Com, his personal failings become all the more evident. The toxic egotism becomes more obvious. His inability to hire managers who don’t make writers quit becomes more publicized. His love of blabbering to New York Post media reporters gets old.
This industry deserves better leaders than Goldberg.