In memoriam: The publications that died in 2015
Death is a part of life. Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the publishing world.
While 2015 was a year where BuzzFeed, Vox, Vice and their ilk all got massive cash infusions from wide-eyed venture capitalists, it was also a year where the realities of media today took their toll on smaller, less buzzy sites and magazines. Here are some of the most high-profile deaths.
January: AOL brings a little misery to Joystiq
AOL rang in the new year with a major restructuring of its media properties. On the chopping block was 11-year-old video game blog Joystiq. Blame lagging performance. Joystiq’s traffic had declined 18 percent compared to the year before, and AOL said that it wanted to focus on its stronger properties. Doing so also likely sweetened the deal for Verizon, which scooped up AOL just four months later.
March: Gigaom pulled the plug (and someone else plugged it back in)
Gigaom may have been one of the most well-respected tech sites on the Web, but respect doesn’t keep the lights on. While its March shutdown came as a surprise to onlookers, it soon became clear that Gigaom’s death was the product of a handful of strategic blunders over the past few years, including a mountain of debt. But while the site shook off its original staff and editorial team, it lives on in spirit under new owner Knowingly Corp, which acquired Gigaom’s assets in May.
June: R.I.P. Circa
Mobile news app Circa, high on hype and funding, ended up being low on actual interest. While the app raised over $5.7 million in two years, it largely failed to convert that capital into substantial userbase. Circa had just 300,000 unique mobile users at its peak, scuttling its chance at future investments and forcing it to shut down. But that lack of traction has apparently not spooked the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which said it plans to relaunch Circa with a focus on original reporting.
July: Pitchfork Media sticks a fork in The Dissolve
The most crushing part about The Dissolve closing is the proof that a bunch of smart people writing about film isn’t sustainable.
— Bon Champion (@bonchampion) July 8, 2015
The Dissolve, Pitchfork’s Upscale movie news and review site, was built to tap into the “shared passion [and] curiosity” of filmgoers. But ultimately, not even a small but dedicated group of readers was enough to keep the site afloat. Pitchfork dissolved the site in July, citing “thee various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise,” according to editorial director Keith Phipps.
November: Lucky Magazine’s luck runs out
Count Lucky as another print mag that met its end this year. The high-end women’s magazine turned heads over a decade ago thanks to is then-unconventional blurring of the lines between editorial and product advertising. But that model is less unique in the age of the Web, where there’s no shortage of sites willing to give recommendations on what to wear. Condé Nast sold the magazine to retail site Beachmint, which aimed to use Lucky to build a new content-commerce hybrid.
November: ESPN puts Grantland out to pasture
I loved everyone I worked with at G and loved what we built. Watching good/kind/talented people get treated so callously = simply appalling.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 30, 2015
When ESPN provocateur Bill Simmons decamped in May, attention immediately turned to Grantland, the esoteric pet project that Simmons founded in 2011. ESPN, which has been bogged down by concerns over the uncertain future of the cable bundle, didn’t seem to have much reason to keep Grantland around with Simmons gone. Those concerns were proven justified just a few months later when ESPN pulled the plug on Grantland, which was ultimately a tiny, unfocused site that interested few outside media circles.
November: Gawker kills Gawker
This was a humbling year for Gawker. It’s ongoing lawsuit with Hulk Hogan has been an expensive undertaking, costing Gawker hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in legal fees and threatening to bankrupt the company entirely. Likewise, Gawker’s July story that outed a Condé Nast exec was decried both internally and externally. The result: plenty of soul-searching, and a Gawker that claims it will focus more on politics than celebrity gossip. Alongside this new focus, Gawker also pulled the plug on its Morning After, Valleywag and Defamer sites, which focused on TV, technology and celebrity gossip.
Member ExclusiveManaging during crisis: How to cut costs and communicate tough decisions
During the wide-ranging talk, held virtually exclusively for Digiday+ members, former Comscore CEO Bryan Wiener explained which skills --decisiveness, focus and communication -- will make any leader, regardless of how experienced, ready to adapt their companies and come out of the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever.
‘It’s important everyone steps up’: BBC Global News Jim Egan on media in a time of crisis
"Traditional rules and restrictions about getting processes underway are being put to one side."
How The Financial Times is adapting its events business
During a time where it’s broadly illegal for people in the U.S. and Europe to gather, The Financial Times is adapting its in-person event business. Wasting little time, the business and finance publisher hosted the first in a series of online events, called “Digital Dialogues,” on Wednesday, April 1. “The Global Economic Emergency” session featured […]
SponsoredBridging the TV-digital divide from an engineer’s perspective
TV supports a complex ecosystem of planning, negotiation, reporting and measurement. As digital content merges with television, leading engineers and experts are tackling the significant challenge of bringing those same skill sets to the video landscape.
Mel Magazine co-founder Josh Schollmeyer on how the site’s ‘never been there to push razors’
Mel Magazine is growing in name recognition, but how the men's lifestyle site could best serve its parent company, Dollar Shave Club, is still a bit unknown. "It's never been there just to push razors," founding editor Josh Schollmeyer said on the Digiday Podcast.
‘There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty’: Confessions of a chief media officer
As companies reign in costs, senior marketers are having to become experts in cash flow management, according to the latest Confessions.