Huff Announces New Business Section Amidst Hacker Attacks on Gapers Block

Andrew Huff Photo

Andrew Huff speaks to a DePaul journalism class on Sept. 12 (Photo by Mike Reilley)

Gapers Block, the informative web publication on everything Chicago, has been battling hackers who are trying to access the site’s advertisements and meddle with ad revenue, founder Andrew Huff, 36, said.

While Huff was giving a presentation to DePaul students on Sept. 12, he realized the hackers were tampering with the site yet again.

“We’re dealing with hackers this week,” he said, “I’m not sure how they got in again because we changed all the passwords, but I’m going to have to deal with this.”

Despite being concerned about the hackers, Huff talked enthusiastically about adding a business section to the site.

“We seek to cover what isn’t being covered elsewhere,” he said.

The business section will be among Gapers Block’s other topical sections, including arts and culture, politics, food, literature, sports and music.

Founded in 2003 by Huff and web designer Naz Hamid, Gapers Block launched with 14 volunteer writers and has grown to 80 volunteer writers from all different backgrounds. Inspired by the phrase ‘gapers block,’ a Chicago term for the pile-up in traffic when people slow down to see an accident, Huff created the site to encourage Chicagoans to slow down and see what their city has to offer. After eight years and running, Huff celebrates the fact that Gapers Block has endured and stayed influential in Chicago.

“Gapers Block started as a labor of love and became a business,” he added.

Huff said he hopes to turn Gapers Block into a full-time job and continues to strive for increased visibility and traffic to the site.

“I would love to be able to do this without having to scrape by,” he said.

No stranger to blogging, Huff has been in the blogosphere for more than 10 years. With a journalism degree from Ohio State University, Huff first started out with a career in Public Relations and produced a monthly newsletter called the “Huff Report” that he would send out to his family and friends via e-mail. As blogs started gaining press in 2001, Huff ditched the newsletter and created his own personal weblog – He has also written a blog on A&E television’s Paranormal State, an activism blog for Kenneth Cole and a foodie blog for Starwood Hotel Travel.

“Most of my career has been about voice and getting it right,” he said.

In writing across such a wide range of topics, Huff has had a lot of experience in finding and fine tuning different voices to reach large audiences and keep them coming back for more.

“It’s not just about getting hits, but about building an audience,” Huff said, “You can chase traffic, but it will skew what you write about. Write something substantial and make people think.”