ThinkProgress, the left-leaning online political news site, is closing up shop.
The web site’s owner, public policy researcher The Center for American Progress, said the site had been unable to find a buyer in recent months, having put itself up for sale early this summer. Navin Nayek, CAP’s executive director said this left “no choice but to close ThinkProgress as an independent enterprise focused on original reporting.”
“Given the challenging trends in digital news media that have undermined so many iconic outlets, it has become unsustainable for CAP, as a nonprofit, to continue supplementing the growing shortfall in ThinkProgress revenue,” Nayek wrote in a statement.
He added that there were talks with at least 20 potential publishers to take over the site, but alluded to a general lack of revenue coming from the site leading to its outright closure. He pointed to the general instability of digital publishing as “insurmountable in finding ThinkProgress a new home.”
The site’s lone offshoot ClimateProgress is going back under the control of its founder, Joe Romm. ThinkProgress content will simply be folded into CAP’s main site and may continue on in some form, but not in an independent journalistic capacity as it had been operated. “We will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change,” Nayek said.
While Nayek said a number of ThinkProgress’ relatively small editorial staff of less than 20 had already left for new jobs since the site was put up for sale, there still seems to be some surprise that the site was shut down completely. And it seems that around a dozen staffers are being laid off as a result of the closure.
Judd Legum, who founded the site in 2005 and was its first editor in chief for two years, wrote on Twitter that the decision to close it and put it under CAP “underscores that this was ultimately about control, not money.”
“It also underscores my belief that we need more progressive media that is not only independent, but self sustaining,” he added. “Donors are great until they jump ship.”
Legum left the site in 2007 but returned in 2011 and soon named its editor in chief once again. The sites traffic a few years ago was in excess of 10 million visitors a month, but Legum left ThinkProgress last year and started his own political newsletter. He was replaced only in December by Jodi Enda, formerly of CNN and the site’s third and first woman editor in chief.
Luke Barnes, until today a reporter for the site, wrote on Twitter of his appreciation for the work he was allowed to do at ThinkProgress, but said “it’s been clear for a while that things have not been great financially.” Emphasizing that point, he said, “I’m honestly somewhat received that this whole process is over with.”
The newsroom had unionized last year with Writers Guild of America East and a contract was ratified in December, which included severance provisions. Still, in what’s become a regular feature of digital news layoffs, reporters took to Twitter mainly to announce their availability for jobs and freelancing work and colleagues and peers posted their recommendations.
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