25-year-old Jessica Coen caused a major buzz in the blogosphere when she stepped in last August to take over Gawker, the must-read gossip blog. Where did she come from? Who is she? bloggers asked. The University of Michigan grad seemed to move from virtual unknown to New York's gossip queen in the blink of an eye, taking over where Gawker's second editor, Choire Sicha, left off. Coen arrived just in time for a further flurry of publicity for Gawker Media, Nick Denton's ever-expanding blog empire, and has ably led Gawker through such meaty stories as Brad and Jen's breakup (which Coen gushingly obsessed over by reading from the quickie bio Brad & Jen: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood's Golden Couple at the Ritalin Reading Series), Lindsay Lohan's missing purse, and their ongoing Radar magazine obsession. In addition to her Gawker duties, Coen has written for the New York Post, doled out sex advice, been quoted in recent blog-related New York Times articles, famously appeared on Topic A with Tina Brown to go head-to-head with rival gossip columnist Liz Smith, and was named one of Media Magazine's 100 media "people you need to know" for 2005. Here, Coen goes beyond what you'll find in the Gawker FAQ and clears up various rumors, gives the inside scoop about catfights, j-school, working around the clock, Liz Smith, and being called a "penis-envying hack," all with the trademark snark that got her here in the first place.

To clear up any and all rumors on the topic, how did you wind up with such a plum job at the young age of 24?
The unexciting answer: I had a personal blog that I was writing while I lived in LA. It kept my brain from rotting during my cubicle-slave hours, and eventually I gained a small readership. Nick and Choire had apparently been reading me for some time and when they heard that I’d be moving to New York, the email from Nick magically appeared. Thousands of frantic IMs with Choire later, and I was signed on by Memorial Day. See? Bloggy dreams can come true!

The exciting answer: Nick Denton is my biological father.

How long did you attend Columbia Journalism School, and what were you planning on doing before you got the position at Gawker?
Okay, say it with me now: I DID NOT ATTEND COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL. I was accepted to their 2005 class, I visited the campus, and I plunked down my enrollment cash (NB to all would-be j-schoolers: This was very, very stupid and expensive on my part). Nick contacted me shortly thereafter (not knowing about Columbia) and it was pretty clear that I would have to choose. Columbia lacked the poverty panache that I’d been longing for, so here I am. Also, I really wanted to piss off my mother, and choosing blogging over Columbia seemed like a cute way to go about that.

You’re Gawker’s third editor, following Elizabeth Spiers and Choire Sicha. Is it challenging to follow in their footsteps? When you write, are you aiming for a "Gawker voice" or a "Jessica Coen" voice, or do the two merge?
I think that if my own voice hadn’t been similar to The Almighty Gawker Voice, I would never have been considered for the position.

As for following Elizabeth and Choire, both of whom are incredibly talented and far more mentally ill than I could ever hope to be: of course it’s difficult. I’ll always be compared to Choire, Choire will always be compared to Elizabeth, and all of us are either fantastically superior or inferior to one another, depending on who you ask. The Chinese dude in my building thinks I’m doing an okay job; he doesn’t speak English, but I can see it in his eyes.

Speaking of your predecessors, some New York newspapers tried to insinuate a rivalry between Gawker and Fishbowl NY, which Gawker's first editor, Elizabeth Spiers, co-edits. Do stories such as these have any merit, or do they simply sound good? Are Gawker alumnae and current employees one big happy family?
Elizabeth and I used to have weekly knife-fights at the Condé Nast bike racks, but that was resolved long before either of us assumed our respective posts. I’d have to say the NYT story was purely to create buzz, and everyone loves a girl-on-girl blogger catfight. (So very sexy, non?) Sorry to disappoint, but there’s not a ton of animosity – I’m friendly with Elizabeth and have a tremendous amount of respect for her. I’m pretty close with Choire, particularly since he hired me, trained me, and breastfed me. But it’s not like everyone in the company gets together for happy hour every day.

How much of your work do you feel is reporting the news/gossip and how much of it, as this point, is creating it? Because it seems like at this point, Gawker's take often becomes the story, or at least, part of the story, in other media outlets.
Jesus, that’s a really sad thought.

How much editorial control do you have over what gets posted?
Everything is pretty much all my fault. I generally let guest editors write whatever they want, but I don’t hesitate to exercise editorial control when necessary. Like, if someone writes something that will inevitably cause the death of 10,000 baby cows, I’m going to step in. No bovine deaths on my watch.

Obviously, my editorial direction comes from above, and any shifts in overall tone or content have to do with large-scale directives or, more likely, my menstrual cycle. But individual posts are under my control. I won’t take credit for what I don’t write, but I do take responsibility for everything on the site.

How much actual time each day do you work on Gawker? Are you always "on call" to some extent, or do you clock out when the workday ends?
If I’m in New York, or I’m near a computer, I’m working. Or at least thinking about working. I’m usually reading and writing by 7 am and will be doing so, on and off, for the next 8-10 hours. It’s a weird, erratic schedule. I wouldn’t say I’m always “on call,” but unless I’m on an airplane or rescuing a kitten from a tree, I’m checking my email and available. Christ, I could write Gawker from my freaking Treo – although I can’t imagine who or what would merit that sort of thing. Actually, yes I can. Sigh.

Aside from legal issues, is there any topic or story you consider taboo, or would consider taboo, or is nothing taboo in gossip journalism?
You may find this hard to believe, but I don’t want to ruin anyone’s life. Not anyone that doesn’t deserve it, anyhow.

In terms of getting tips, where do you see Gawker fitting in within the scheme of gossip columns? Is the average person at, say, Conde Nast, now going to offer you their scoop rather than a Page Six? Is Gawker, by nature of it being a website and skewed to a younger audience, automatically "cooler" amongst young media professionals than other gossip sources?
I refuse to answer this question on principle, as I take issue with your assumption that anyone at Condé is average – every Condé Nast employee is exceptional. How dare you demean them with your blue-collar adjectives!

If you could give any current train wreck of a celebrity some advice, what would it be?
Lindsay Lohan, may God help you secure a room at Promises. Nicole Richie, you’re next.

You must get countless pieces of reader mail, including being called names. Do letters like that amuse you, enrage you, or both?
At this point, nothing really enrages me. The very first email I read this morning called me a “penis-envying hack.” At 6:45 in the morning, I can’t think of anything more hilarious. And if you’re so passionate as to write me a novella about how you want to give me syphilis, well, I know a few agents who’d be interested in harnessing your “raw talent.”

You're now being featured on major news shows such as Topic A With Tina Brown, where you recently went head-to-head with Liz Smith. What was doing that show like, after you’ve verbally sparred with her in print?
That was, without question, the best experience of my tenure at Gawker. I think there’s this prevailing notion that if we’re blogging about something, we’re hiding behind our keyboards. So untrue; put me in a room, and I’ll say to your face exactly what I wrote online. I’m just as hideous in real life. And after the Tina Brown taping, Liz Smith apologized to me—the poor old lady had no idea that Gawker was a real company, or that bloggers weren’t just imaginary robots. She was actually really sweet. I want her to be my granny.

Is celebrity journalism becoming more respectable, or simply more widespread, and either way, is this a good thing?
If celebrity journalism is respectable, then I’m the Virgin Mary dressed as the Queen of England.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
Favorite: The swag. Publicists just send me fruit basket upon fruit basket.

Least favorite: When my parents get bored and Google my name, then breathlessly call to inform me that some random person thinks I’m a lesbian.

Do you ever get to read for pleasure anymore, and if so, what do you read?
Read? Huh? Like, on paper? What do you mean? Where am I? I’m so tired…

Do you have any advice for someone who aspires to become a professional gossip?
Get a good psychiatrist – seriously, he or she will be the only person you can trust.

Visit Gawker for your daily dose of gossip and Jessicacoen.com for Jessica's personal blog.