Why The Progressive News Site ThinkProgress Shut Down Suddenly

Published on September 10, 2019

Progressive media website ThinkProgress shut down this month after it failed to acquire funding. Amid the shutdown, the website was forced to lay off all of its staff, which had unionized back in 2015. The company was apparently looking for a new buyer to fund the project, but after failing to find one it was forced to fold the company altogether. ThinkProgress was one of the top progressive news sites in the United States, and was backed by the Center for American Progress before it was shut down.

“Given that we could find no new publisher, we have no other real option but to fold the ThinkProgress website back into CAP’s broader online presence with a focus on analysis of policy, politics, and news events through the lens of existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts,” said Navin Nayak, the executive director of ThinkProgress, in a statement to the Daily Beast.

The media site was editorially independent, and published content for years during the Bush and Obama administrations. Think Progress rose to prominence during the last Bush administration and played a major role in how the progressive voice was formed as the Obama administration took over. In the Trump administration, progressive news outlets like ThinkProgress remain a cornerstone of the often controversial happenings in Washington.

Changes In The Media Industry

The media industry has had a particularly tough year. Many media outlets and websites faced mass layoffs starting back in January and continuing throughout the year. In January, the layoffs came in strong, as the media industry lost about 1,000 jobs throughout media sites like BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Gannett. The latter of which is one of the largest media organizations in the country, which had about 19,000 employees in 2017.

Many media sites blame a loss in revenue on the need for layoffs around the country. In many cases, companies like Facebook and Google, which dominate the ad industry worldwide, are among some of the most impactful sites that draw potential advertisers away from media sites and toward social media. In other ways, social media giants like Facebook are actively trying to make it harder for publications to reach consumers because of algorithm changes.

This is not the first time the media industry has been shaken by the internet, though. Print and television media suffered greatly with the rise of the internet back in the early 2000’s. Before that, radio media suffered while television took over. Changes in consumer and advertiser habit mean that the media industry will have to find new ways to integrate in order to fight for its survival. Otherwise, sites will have to suffer the same fate as ThinkProgress. The arrival of apps like Apple News aim to help curb some of the fallback in the media industry, but independent outlets remain at risk of suffering.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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