Susie Banikarim, editorial director of the company formerly known as Gizmodo Media Group (RIP), is off to find her next great grift. In keeping with tradition, we’re sending her off with an insufficient amount of thanks and praise. Eternal love to Susie.
Susie was exactly the type of boss a good journalist needs. Totally no bullshit, not willing to put up with anything, and completely indefatigable in the face of remarkable corporate headwinds. Also, hilarious.
Susie was, is, and always will be, a total champ.
I only found Susie mildly terrifying, but in a super good, challenge-me-to-be-a-better-editor sort of way. She made us all stronger by virtue of her strength, and I’m a better editor and person for it.
Was lucky to work for Susie across four years and two separate jobs. She always championed me and my work, supported me in times of true chaos, and counseled me wisely on all sorts of things.
To give a sense of Susie’s far-ranging wisdom and talents, she provided editorial oversight on an ambitious investigative podcast, helped me navigate the strange world of television production companies, introduced me to the best breakfast of my life, and gifted me the perfect pair of earrings, which I wear at least four times a week.
I’ve never seen any leader fight harder for her staff. And I’m not gonna roast her in this goodbye post, because there’s nothing on Earth I fear more than Susie roasting me back.
Splinter would never have become the site it is without Susie—in large part because she believed in and supported and defended my vision of what it could be. As a new editor in chief who was terrified that I was not actually up to the job, she allayed my concerns early and often, and for that I owe her more than I think I could every properly repay.
Susie stood on the frontline of all our battles in our thousand year war against Univision and it’s because she did so that any of us were able to do anything meaningful. Losing her is an incredible loss for this newsroom, but we all stand stronger from her wisdom.
Shortly after Susie arrived here I met her at a coffee shop near the office. She was the new boss coming in after a number of well-liked coworkers had departed. I was both skeptical and intimidated by her, but it wasn’t long before she earned the trust of the newsroom the hard way—by being a dedicated fighter and champion of this company and the people who work for her. I’m proud to have worked with her and thankful for her support. Those who do so in the future will be glad to have her in their corner.
I was ready to quit before Susie got hired. When I sat with her in the weird cafeteria on 17th Street that is now closed (RIP) I was exhausted, angry, and asked her about her TWEETS like a psycho. That meeting turned out to be a huge relief. Not only did she compliment my skin, but Susie made me feel like she was going to fuck shit up in the best way. That job is thankless and exhausting on a good day, but she did it, and did it well, in extreme conditions. I am tremendously lucky to have worked with her.
Whoever is fortunate enough to work with Susie next should know they’re getting a colleague who is willing to do anything for them, and watching her in action will be both inspiring and slightly terrifying at the same time. She held up a newsroom crumbling from the weight of an incompetent owner through sheer willpower, and every single one of us still here is better off for it. I’m going to miss her a lot, but I know that she’ll be making fools out of incompetent men somewhere great in no time.
“May the bridges I burn light your way.” — Susie Banikarim
I hope to one day follow in her footsteps. Susie hired me and looked out for me while at GMG. I appreciate everything she did for me. She is the definition of HBIC and I will miss her dearly.
Susie was a relentless fighter for her newsroom. When we dealt with an owner whose strategy was largely just Do Nepotism, she was a beacon of hope to us all. Not only did she help keep the spirit of the former Gawker Media sites thriving, her hires, big ideas, and commitment to impactful stories yielded some of the internet’s best journalism. We could not have asked for a more supportive leader.
Her mandate was for us to go after the grifters, the abusers, and the dipshits of the world, all while she herself staved off so many trash ideas that would have compromised the very soul of these publications. You wanna know why there wasn’t a bunch of dumb shit like GMG blogs promoting Univision’s latest telenovela? Thank Susie for that! She doesn’t get enough credit for it, or for any number of the other things she did for us—and for our readers. In a perfect world it’d be people like her running the media business, not the terrible, mansplaining frauds who always seem to have the money and keep failing upward.
I’m rambling now but Susie was a wonderful boss. I will miss her telling me that I need to “have a better work-life balance” in between bouts of, like, putting some Fusion executive on blast until they agreed not to make us launch a new blog about sharks run by their cousin’s spiritual advisor’s son, who was also 19 years old.*
(*Some artistic license taken here. But only some.)
The first time I met Susie, we spent most of our hour-long interview dissecting the images of various pop stars. Somehow, I didn’t get the job. A few months later, I came to work for her in a totally different job—covering sports, about which she knows far, far less than pop stars. And when I say “far less,” what I mean is that Susie knows nothing about sports at all (“except tennis!” I can hear her yelling, which, fine).
I wasn’t sure what it’d be like to work for someone who knows nothing about the topics I cover, but it didn’t take long to realize it’s the best. Susie read Deadspin stories with the kind of infectious curiosity some of us reserve for, like, photographs of black holes, and loved to excitedly tell me about what she learned that day from our site. And meanwhile, she taught me so, so much about management and editorial vision and skincare and how the world works. She is also the most fun person alive to gossip with: Her eyes light up and she throws her head back when she laughs and she hates all the most idiotic people.
Susie advocates fiercely for her people and for what’s right, and I admire her far more than I know how to tell her. I fully plan to keep riding her coattails for a while—at least until I’ve managed to teach her the difference between a quarterback and a shortstop.
Here are a few things I learned from Susie Banikarim in the years she ran the newsroom at the company née Gizmodo Media Group: how to give feedback directly and compassionately without being an a-hole, how to get out of a speeding ticket without having to go to court, how to wear all black every day without looking like a stagehand or goth, and the necessity of fighting for what you think is just and important regardless of consequences. Susie is tough and kind and brilliant and funny and I adore her.
This is super embarrassing, but I was 26 when Susie first pointed out to me that you can actually put makeup in your eyebrows. Yeah, I know. And I believed her immediately, because her eyebrows are on point. OK maybe I used eyeliner pencil during those first few painful and confusing days but I finally went to CVS and found myself an eyebrow pencil and now everything is fine!!!!
Real talk though, Susie is an immensely talented and caring person and I’m so honored to have been able to work with her. She embodies the very first piece advice I was given when I started this gig, which is don’t take shit from anyone. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that in the mix of everything, but Susie was always there and happy to remind me.
A former executive editor of Gawker Media once analogized the way this newsroom typically reacts to the presence of newcomers to the way white blood cells react to an infection.
He wasn’t exactly wrong. And so when Susie took over as GMG’s executive editor, following a lineage of people who had previously risen to that role from within the company, I will admit that I was skeptical.
That skepticism was quickly replaced by a deep appreciation and sense of loyalty. Susie was a fierce advocate for the newsroom, constantly fighting against external and internal forces that wanted to make it harder for us to do our jobs well. She put her neck on the line for us, many times over. Her replacement has very big shoes to fill.
To put it simply, Susie did the thing you want anyone in her position to do: she had our back, over and over and over and over again. That is what matters most, and we are all grateful.
I have never met a woman who has had her own job re-explained to her by stupid men as many times as Susie has. Saying anything beyond that gets too saccharine, but I’ll miss her and her particular brand of I-don’t-need-this-shit that made this whole place better.
After one of my fuck-ups and stern-but-affection talking-tos from Susie, I asked if I caused her more headaches than any other GMG employee. She laughed and said I wasn’t even close to the most common fucker-upper, though “when you do, you really swing for the fences.” This made me feel good not only because I now knew I had a cushion to do more bad stuff, but also because Susie realized I was capable of greatness in fuck-uppery. I just wanted to make her proud, you know?
Susie faced maybe the most daunting start at this company that anyone’s ever had, coming in in the midst of whichever of the many crises it was at the time, replacing a beloved person, and being thrown to a cliquish, skeptical, and riled-up group of bloggers ready to tear apart the new boss for even the slightest perceived flaw or weakness. She immediately won all of us over by being an unimpeachably staunch champion of this company’s editorial mission and editorial independence. To handle that, and to handle the next few years of co-workers both beneath and above her on the org chart fucking up at all time and making her life as miserable as possible, is nearly superhuman. Now that Susie’s gone, I intend to keep fucking up, but it just won’t be the same.
Susie and I got to work together for four years at two companies—through something like a dozen different configurations of CEOs and job titles and office spaces. We took work trips to L.A., San Francisco, and Tel Aviv, and shared hundreds of meals, cars, drinks, and text messages. She’s given me advice, encouragement, tough love, and pastries. She’s an amazing boss, a loyal friend, and all-around great human being. She also referred me to the best dentist I’ve visited, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.
The amount of times I have Signaled Susie at 12:30 a.m. about a story while having a mild panic attack are more than I would like to admit; the amount of times she responded with measured and calm advice and also the good recommendation to chillax equates that. I will also miss her stash of snacks.
I know she despises earnestness but this post warrants some good ol’ fashioned, short and sweet schmaltz: Susie Banikarim is the best boss you could ever hope for, that I hoped for, and I’m sorry our time working together was cut short. Whatever’s next for her is going to be dope as hell.
Susie is a genuinely good person, which is rare only because most people in media are trash. She’s also the best boss anyone can hope for—tough, thoughtful, kind, thorough, and more than willing to go to the mat for her people. She told me recently, for example, that it was time for my beard to go and she was completely right. More importantly, she’s been the biggest advocate for us I can imagine, championing our work under often trying circumstances. I will miss her all too much.
Susie is one of the fiercest advocates for her team that I’ve ever met. Under various leadership to absent corporate parentage, she kept the editorial ship afloat and motivated. That was no easy task, and everyone who worked under her benefited from it. Now she’s off to find the perfect grift, as we all aspire to when everything implodes. I hope she calls me from there.
Susie had to do about 15 interviews to get the job running our newsroom, and yet somehow that didn’t scare her off. Nor did the workplace absurdity that followed. Like all of our other editorial directors, she got the chance to lead us through some simultaneously great and miserable times and did so while lasting longer in her role than anyone who came before her. She made Kotaku a better site, and I’ll forever be grateful for how generous she was with her time, her guidance, and the editorial management team’s always-excellent offering of snacks.
Susie once called me a Medium.