Meet Splinter’s New Editor-In-Chief, Jacob Weindling

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Meet Splinter’s New Editor-In-Chief, Jacob Weindling

Putting my own name in a title is a strange experience—another layer to this whole surreal saga where I have been entrusted with a slice of one of the most important legacies in media—but I am determined to adhere to the values associated with Splinter and the greater Gawker universe, beginning with radical transparency. I cannot ask our readers to trust us with their time if they don’t know who’s running this ship. Our Deputy Editor Dave Levitan is someone who many of you know and if you don’t, go to any website where smart things are written and you’ll find his work (or buy his book!), but most people reading this have likely never heard of me, so it’s important that you all know who you’re dealing with.

I’m not supposed to be here.

I was out. Gone forever.

After leaving Paste in 2020, I watched digital media get annihilated. Writers and journalists far more talented and experienced than me saw their opportunities dry up, and by 2023, the writing on the wall was clear: I had to shift careers. I’m 37 years old and not getting any younger, and this would be the second time I’ve changed my career path (first from sales into writing when Paste Magazine hired me in 2016), so I really needed to make it count. I decided that due to my own personal interests and in the name of stability that I would get a master’s degree in finance, and that is what I am doing right now. I’m done in early May, so until then I will have Editor-in-Chief of Paste Magazine Josh Jackson or Deputy Editor Dave Levitan help me out on the days where I’m too busy to do both. After then, you’re stuck with me all day.

But I should really start at the beginning of this story to give you the full picture first.

I grew up in Colorado playing sports year-round (primarily baseball and basketball, but because my knees are older than 37, golf is my drug of choice now), and I have been a huge sports fan practically since birth (it’s actually in the Colorado constitution that you have to get your blood dyed before every football season so you can literally bleed Bronco orange and blue for the next four months). We will be introducing a small sports vertical to Splinter, but I want to make it clear that this will always be a politics site, and if you want to read more sports coverage than we have to offer, we strongly suggest you go subscribe to Defector.

Also while you’re at it, go subscribe to the OG Splinter folks over at Discourse Blog. Subscribe to the Kotaku folks at Aftermath. Subscribe to Splinter and Jezebel. The vast majority of Splinter and Jezebel will still be free to read, but subscribing gives you access to some subscriber-only content, the ability to comment on articles, a private Discord where you can chat with writers, some swag and any other fun stuff we can think of to reward our readers. This is the only model that’s proven to be truly sustainable, folks. Every newspaper royally fucked up in the 1990s giving this stuff away for free, and establishing a business model that inevitably got swallowed whole by tech monopolies. If we want independent media to live, we have to pay for it, lest Google and Facebook take it all for themselves.

Growing up in Denver, Amherst and Boston

Sports weren’t my only passion growing up during The End of History. When the Supreme Court decided that Florida had counted enough ballots in 2000 (that just so coincidentally aligned with their ideological ally winning the election, what luck!) leading to George W. Bush’s subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003, a switch in my brain permanently flipped on, and righteous outrage at the status quo characterized my evolving political beliefs. I went to the University of Massachusetts to study political science and economics, initially with the intention of working in Washington D.C., but upon learning How Things Work from my excellent professors at UMass, I decided that was the last thing I ever wanted to do.

I canvassed for Environment Massachusetts in the Berkshires in the summer of 2008, and knocking on strangers’ doors and asking for money to help pass a climate bill near the nadir of the Great Financial Crisis was the most eye-opening experience of my life (it passed!). I have been doing lefty politics on and off ever since, as my last gig was helping Sunrise Colorado on Andrew Romanoff’s primary against Senator John Hickenlooper in 2020. This is where I must disclose that my sister is the Political Director of Sunrise Movement, a well-known climate advocacy organization, so now you know that I’m not the big shot in the family. I’m just a blogger.

Graduating in 2009 during the biggest financial crisis in a century further hardened this anti-establishment fervor inside of me, and I took the first sales job I could get just so I could go hang out with my friends and get drunk in Boston and figure out my plan later. When I watched the Tahrir Square protests in 2011, I was inspired by this new generation’s ability to coordinate an honest to goodness revolution on social media and blogs.

Aimless in my career at that point, I got the idea to create a rankable social network for bloggers and co-founded it with one of my best friends from college (he handled the tech stuff, I handled everything else) and we called it The Pollis. I still believe the basic concept was solid, and we got good feedback in our alpha from a group of bloggers who were interested in pursuing it further, but I had created an unavoidable catch-22: turns out bloggers are not willing to sign up for a site with no readers, and readers are not willing to sign up for a site with no bloggers! Whoops!

We then pivoted to a better idea (that in hindsight would have taken a heavy algorithmic lift to not have its ranking system get hijacked by internet trolls): a rankable RSS library with a social network wrapped around it. The beloved Google Reader had just died, and we figured we could repurpose something like it with a Twitter competitor. After being invited to present our working demo at New York TechDay 2014, and subsequently wandering the land of half-empty to empty VC promises and running out of runway and hope, we decided we had to quit and go back to the real world and get real jobs—and that’s when I got fully radicalized.

I was late to the Gawker show. I spent the early part of the 2010s…well, I couldn’t describe a lot of that period in detail, but you get the picture. When my dream of getting rich the good old-fashioned way died—being paid outrageous sums by Silicon Valley VCs to lose money for the next 10+ years—the real job I took was selling merchant services (accounts that every business must have to accept credit and debit cards).

I wrote about this dismaying experience at Paste, and while I have no knowledge of what the industry is like a decade later, I can attest that in 2014 it was horrid. It was one big shell game created by the three major processors to move customers around “different” sales outlets while paying differing amounts of fees based on the degree to which those various sales outlets were willing to fuck with their customers. I had always been cynical about the power structure that runs the world, but it’s another thing to see it firsthand and have someone call and tell you they may lose their house because you lied to them about what rate they would pay when you were just reading standard industry script (and I worked for one of the best sales outlets, the stories that sales guys from our competitors would call us up with were truly horrifying, so much so they felt the need to call the higher rated place and just vent).

This is where I began my journey into internet brain poisoning, with Gawker being one of my gateway drugs after digging deeper into Twitter. My rigid polisci brain had never read anything like it before, and it was exhilarating. The energy, the rage, I dug it all and started reading Kotaku, Jezebel, Deadspin and dabbled throughout the greater Gawker Media universe, inspired by this style of no-bullshit journalism I wasn’t reading in the Very Serious newspapers and magazines I thought I admired.

And then the lamest wrestler ever and Silicon Valley’s most evil VC killed it right as my own journey into digital media began, where I concluded that my dream was to write for a Gawker property one day.

Jumping on Board the Digital Media Titanic

The Pollis was an idea, not a passion. I never aspired to be a tech founder (and given what happened to those guys this past decade, thank goodness I wasn’t), and after going back to sales I figured I’d come around to really wanting to do something with my life eventually. Throughout my 20s, I blogged on the side because writing was always my best skill—one my mother repeatedly told me I would need in any 21st century job—and doggone it, ma was right. I never let this muscle atrophy, and eventually I started writing for free for now deceased publications no one knew about at the time, before one fateful day on Twitter when a college football pool saved me from the drudgery of Corporate America.

Shane Ryan, New York Times best-selling authorGolf Digest writer and famed Dukie, was the Editor-in-Chief of Paste Politics, and he invited me to the pool because my Duke-brainwashed best friend from high school was already in it and referred me (if you’re wondering, yes it does destroy a little bit of my soul to know that Duke is at the center of my big break). Shane put out a call for writers for Paste politics at the beginning of 2016, my friend alerted me to it, I replied to one of Shane’s pool e-mails with a pitch, and I soon began to freelance once a week or more. By the end of 2016, I would be hired to run two new verticals at Paste in media and business while still writing for politics.

Disillusioned with my mundane sales life and realizing that this was the path my internal compass was pointed towards the entire time, I jumped at the opportunity to start a new chapter in my life and moved to Atlanta. I learned a lot about journalism and the web and politics and the left and myself during the Trump years, and I left Paste with a reputation good enough to get my work shared by places like The Washington Post (twice), NiemanLab, The Revolving Door Project, and Daily Kos, among others. I am not internet famous by any stretch of the imagination, and even by Twitter’s extremely low standards my following is modest, but the point here is that Paste didn’t hire some random schmuck, and I have published pieces that have made an impact.

How many other people do you know have pulled an on the record “we fucked up” comment out of CNN?

After Google tweaked a part of its algorithm and tanked politics traffic (one running theme of new Splinter will be me repeatedly pointing out that Google and Facebook are destroying this industry, and we can stop a lot of it by simply just enforcing laws already on the books), the politics section eventually shut down for good in April 2020 and I was out of work. I did some news writing for the International Business Times afterwards, but as the pandemic raged on, I realized I was completely burned out and needed to take a break from politics altogether. I took some money out of my savings and decided to take up golf again (like every 3rd person in America during COVID) and spent the rest of the year working on my game and reading anything but politics. I figured that once the golf season was over in a few months, I’d take another crack at the job market in hopes that it would get better (ha), and when 2021 rolled around, my life got really, really crazy.

I found Bitcoin in 2013, and thought it was an intriguing economics experiment to keep an eye on, then finally bought some in 2016 and 2017.

Don’t worry, I’m not a weirdo and I won’t shove it down your throats here. It’s not interesting enough to write about that often anyway (I promise I’ll bring you the stupid stuff though). I think Bitcoin and Ethereum are worthwhile experiments since they are truly decentralized, and there are real-world examples of Bitcoin’s potential usefulness in the Global South, while stablecoins have proven they can bring the dollar and some financial stability with it to every corner of the globe (just so long as they’re, yannow, stable). However, everything else currently lies somewhere between a promise and a scam, as the rest of crypto’s biggest innovation to date has been creating new ways to transfer money from retail to VC hands.

When markets started going wild in 2021 thanks to those sweet stimulus checks and the loosest monetary policy in mankind’s history as COVID raged on, I decided that I would spend much of the year inside trading the inevitable bull run and the rest of it outside golfing. True crypto bull runs are historically once every four-year events, and I had enough money to last me the year, so I figured the job hunt could be pushed back to 2022 since things just seemed to be getting more chaotic in the media companies I wanted to work for. Besides, my golf game still needed more work, and I started writing on Substack to scratch that itch again.

I’ll write more about my wild bull run experience (you think crypto is crazy and stupid? I know crypto is crazy and stupid), but suffice it to say that I came out of it both in a little better financial shape and with serious psychological scarring from many things, primarily playing around with leverage. Trading dog coins for a living is a hell of a drug too—and no, I’m not loaded—key word, leverage. If I was, I’d either be on an island right now or I’d have bought Splinter myself back in 2021 and I sure as hell wouldn’t have kept looking for media jobs in 2022 and 2023 as the industry disintegrated around me.

As I cashed out of a system borne out of the 2008 financial crisis while it created its own series of 2008-style crises, the job market seemed bleaker than ever. I was able to secure a freelance gig writing for Mile High Hockey, SBNation’s Colorado Avalanche blog that survived the mass-culling of hockey content at Vox, but full-time writing work seemed like more and more of an impossibility each day.

I decided that I needed to give up the dream of doing the only kind of writing worth doing, and head back to the safety of Corporate America. Buoyed by this experience where I learned a great deal about finance and trading, I decided that this is where I would pivot my career. Bitcoin did trade pretty much in line with the major indices over the last few years, and it acts like a triple leveraged Nasdaq more than anything else, so I had to learn a lot about finance on the fly, and this is where having a father who was a stockbroker came in handy.


In August 2023, I began taking finance classes at the University of Colorado’s one-year MS program. One day while sitting in class struggling to learn about binomial derivative trees, news broke that Paste Magazine bought Jezebel and Splinter and my head caved in. Shane Ryan tagged me in the Slack he and I are in with our online turned real life friends that we made over the course of the pandemic, and I could feel a dormant part of my brain begin to take over. I do enjoy finance and would have been fine with some simple accounting or investment management career to safely guide me to retirement, but as I said before, this is where my internal compass is pointed.

Besides, I know how to trade dog coins now anyway. I don’t need a real finance career. I learned something more valuable given how stupid markets have become (if you’re reading this professors, jk jk haha).

I applied for the job and wrote in my cover letter that this is the only media gig I would take to deviate from my “stay safe get paid” track, and I mean it. If the New York Times called tomorrow to offer me an Editor-in-Chief position I’d hang up on them. This is my New York Times (I’d also wonder what their real angle was given some of my uh, past writing about them).

A week later Paste CEO Josh Jackson offered me the position of Splinter Editor-in-Chief, and now I am re-launching Splinter in between the last of my finance classes and group project meetings with a bunch of people up to 15 years younger than me—yet another layer to this increasingly surreal experience.

Which catches you all up to this sentence. My hope with new Splinter is that we can pick right up where the last folks left off, and keep this kind of writing alive in a digital media world getting bleaker by the minute (pitch me at Jacob at Splinter dot com!). I wouldn’t be here if someone else owned Splinter, I’d still be struggling to figure out binomial derivative trees (well, I still am, but that’s beside the point). I believe in Paste Magazine and Josh Jackson’s leadership and ability to help rebuild Splinter into Splinter, and I’m ecstatic that we could get Dave Levitan on board as Deputy Editor to help shape this new iteration of this good website. It’s quite literally my dream to be here, and my hope is that one day I can earn a fraction of the respect commanded by the banner I write underneath. I’m gonna blog my heart out for you guys, that I can promise.

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