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About a week after Thought Catalog ran the transphobia and Ferguson pieces, Lavergne called me from a blocked number while on businesses in Oklahoma City, where the company has an office. His voice was strained, and sighs accompanied his comments about the monsoon of acidic commentary lobbed at the site.He initially put this conversation off because of the “brutal week” he had endured.” Each of those was either written by a Thought Catalog employee or selected to be published by a Thought Catalog employee, blindly or not.The site’s growth plan is one that attempts to remove the accountability of publishing while still reaping the traffic such stories bring in.“Transphobia Is Perfectly Natural,” and “Ferguson, Missouri Looks Like A Rap Video”: So declared headlines on two consecutive days this past August from early adulthood-angst purveyor Thought Catalog, a Web site for and by millennials.Both pieces racked up thousands of social media shares while being dissected and denounced by dozens of blogs and news outlets.
Producers are trained only to screen for “ In conversations with The Post, three employees at Thought Catalog said that many employees do pull blindly from the submissions inbox — which can number in the thousands per month — and hit publish.
But Thought Catalog, a powerhouse publisher that ranks among the 50 most visited Web sites in the United States, has disavowed any accountability for the pieces by claiming to be not quite a platform, not quite a publisher, but instead a “platisher” — an online publishing trend that blurs the lines between editorial product and free-for-all blogging site.
The “transphobia” piece, written by Vice co-founder and media provocateur Gavin Mc Innes, received enough backlash to cost Mc Innes his job at ad agency Rooster, which he co-founded.
But a wider reach meant that the same clumsy, hyper-intimate essays from unedited college students could no longer skate by unnoticed.
Likewise, the site’s occasional dips into current events were now subjected to the same scrutiny as any other major online publisher, resulting in brutal headlines across the Web attacking the site and its authors for a perceived – and very often, real – naiveté.
After working a handful of jobs around New York in Web design and building sites for musicians and companies, he merged his interests and Thought Catalog was born.