The Awl

The Awl
Type of site
Current events, culture
Available in English
Created by Choire Sicha
Alex Balk
Editor Silvia Killingsworth
Revenue Unknown
Alexa rank Decrease 61,435 (As of 8 November 2016)[1]
Launched 20 April 2009 (2009-04-20)
Current status Active

The Awl is a website about "news, ideas and obscure Internet minutiae of the day"[2] based in New York City. Its motto is "Be Less Stupid."

Founded in April 2009 by David Cho and former Gawker editors Choire Sicha and Alex Balk out of Sicha's East Village apartment after being laid off by the pop culture magazine Radar,[3][4] the trio decided to launch their own blog, completely "out of pocket with a bare-bones site." The site's name was coined by contributor Tom Scocca, after the small pointed tool used for piercing holes. "He’d always wanted to have a newspaper named The Awl. So we semi bought it from him in a friendly arrangement," Sicha told Vanity Fair.[5]


On the site's launch, The Awl's About us page asked readers, “What if there were a website that zippily surveyed a wealth of resonant, weird, important, frightening, amusing bits of news and ideas? And what if it weren’t totally clogged with reality show linkbait?”[2] The first posts on the site were an infographic by Emily Gould of Gawker’s office seating chart, "a video of a Miss USA contestant responding to a gay marriage question from Perez Hilton, and an item linking to a Reuters article about physicist Stephen Hawking being taken to the hospital."[2] Initial expectations by media observers were for the site to be a carbon copy of Gawker, but "instead it was something smaller and focused on the writing, where people can write about the stuff they’re passionate or super nerdy about," says Nieman Journalism Lab’s Justin Ellis.[4]


The Awl Network currently employs 13 people, as well as many freelance contributors.[4] After editing the Awl for over almost two years, Matt Buchanan and John Herrman, announced their departure from the site in February 2016.[6] In March 2016 it was announced that Silvia Killingsworth would take over the editing position.[7] She remains the current editor of both The Awl and its vertical focused on women's issues, The Hairpin. The Awl was published by John Shankman from 2011 until May 2014 and is now published by Michael Macher.[8] In 2011, David Cho left the Awl to join ESPN-affiliated sports site Grantland.[9]

The Awl has five sister sites: Splitsider, a comedy website; The Hairpin, a site geared toward women; The Wirecutter, a consumer electronics blog; The Sweethome, a home furnishings review site; and The Billfold, a blog with a focus on personal finances;[3][5][10][11] Laura Olin edits The Awl's newsletter entitled Everything Changes. Buchanan and Herrman also launched a podcast for the site.[4] The site also launched an app on the Apple Store called The Awl: Weekend Companion.[12]


  1. " traffic". Alexa Internet. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Reagan, Gillian (April 20, 2009). "Gawker Alumni Launch Web Site for 'Resonant, Weird, Important, Frightening' News". The New York Observer. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  3. 1 2 Carr, David (October 24, 2010). "Against Odds, Web Site Finds Niche". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Dzieza, Josh (July 9, 2015). "Why are the most important people in media reading The Awl?". The Verge. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  5. 1 2 Pressman, Matt (April 21, 2009). "Choire Sicha's Plea: Stay Away, Stupid People!". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on November 30, 2009.
  6. "Job Open (Again)". Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  7. "Job Filled". Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  8. "Changes At The Awl". The Awl. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  9. Rovzar, Chris (June 29, 2011). "Awl Publisher and Co-Founder David Cho Leaves for Grantland". New York. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  10. Hayden, Erik (September 8, 2010). "Gawker Slays Newspapers, Shrugs". The Atlantic Wire. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  11. McGann, Laura (June 14, 2010). "The Awl wants to win on the web with great writing, not SEO tricks". Nieman Journalism Lab. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  12. "The Awl: Weekend Companion". Retrieved June 5, 2014.
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