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Mashable’s new editor, Jessica Coen, wants her writers thinking like Gawker

Coen, who spent two years at and five at Jezebel, is focusing Mashable on the stories it can tell best.

Courtesy Jessica Coen

Mashable, which once catered to social media managers and marketers, now wants to reach people who are passionate about a lot of topics, ranging from “Game of Thrones” to old Nokia phones. And executive editor Jessica Coen says it’s going to talk to those passionate communities like real people.

“I’m really focused on personality-driven stories and conversational stories,” Coen said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “I very much want our team to come at a lot of what we do with the approach that they might when they’re talking about it with the person sitting next to them, or at the bar after work.”

“Wait a minute, that sounds like the old Gawker ethos,” Kafka pointed out.

“It’s funny, ’cause I spent a lot of time there!” she laughed.

Coen edited for two years starting in 2004, the site’s third editor ever. And after stints at Vanity Fair and New York Magazine, she returned to the “Nick Denton universe” in 2010, serving as Jezebel’s editor in chief for nearly five years.

Now overseeing Mashable’s editorial work, Coen is making a point of “deciding what not to cover,” spiking story ideas that don’t feel right or telling writers, “If you really want to cover it, you need to give me an angle that feels Mashable to me.”

“I would argue that it was never bland, but it was certainly more broad,” she said of Mashable’s style before her tenure. “In terms of editorial strategy, it makes sense to just focus. You can’t be everything to everyone. You’re not going to win that game. If you try to cover everything, you own nothing. My mission is to decide what we own and how we own it.”

“I don’t want to be the fifth person on a story, but if people care about something, let’s find a way to talk about it that’s at least interesting,” she added.

So this week, when big chunks of the digital press were making a mountain out of where Kellyanne Conway put her feet, Mashable zagged. Its headline: “Why Kellyanne Conway was on the couch and oh lord this is so dumb.

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