ThinkProgress Website Shuts Down After Failing To Find Buyer

Left-wing website ThinkProgress is shutting down after failing to find a buyer, according to the Daily Beast

Launched by the John Podesta-founded Center for American Progress (CAP) which had been hemorrhaging cash to keep the site afloat, ThinkProgress came under severe financial strain after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US election - and not one liberal billionaire was willing to step in with what would be relative pocket change to keep it afloat.

"Unfortunately, like so many other news outlets that have relied on advertising to fund its work, ThinkProgress has seen a significant drop in revenue in recent years, along with other financial strains. In addition, events over the last few years have underscored the divergent missions of American Progress and ThinkProgress," said CAP executive director Navin Nayak in July. 

"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," Nyak said on Friday. "Conversations on how to do so are just beginning, but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change."

A dozen ThinkProgress employees will be losing their jobs, a CAP aide said, as many who were on staff had already gone to work elsewhere and some were incorporated into the larger CAP infrastructure. Those who are being laid off will be given a severance package that runs through the end of November and health care coverage that lasts through the year, said the CAP aide.

As for the actual website, thinkprogress.org will continue to exist. But it will no longer function as an independent enterprise focused on original reporting. Instead, according to Nayak, it will be folded “back into CAP’s broader online presence” as a sounding board for policy and political analysis by existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts. -Daily Beast

According to Nayak regarding folding ThinkProgress into CAP, "Conversations on how to do so are just beginning, but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change."

By July, the website had cut its headcount from 40 to 35, while internal documents obtained by the Beast revealed that the website faced a $3 million delta between revenues and expenses in 2019. $315,000 of this was a shortfall in ad revenue. 

According to the Beast, "there were few more important pieces of unapologetically progressive, online real estate than ThinkProgress. The site combined original reporting with an attack-dog mentality to target Republican lawmakers and conservative ideas. A testament to its success is found in the list of prominent alumni currently working in politics and journalism. That list includes Faiz Shakir, who now serves as Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager; Amanda Terkel, the D.C. bureau chief of the Huffington Post; Nico Pitney, the political director at NowThis; Alex Seitz-Wald, a top campaign reporter for NBC News; Ali Gharib, a senior news editor at The Intercept; and Matt Yglesias, one of the founding members of Vox."

Before going out of business, CAP had "conversations with more than 20 potential new publishers, including several extended dialogues," however "broad trends" in the digital news media space "proved insurmountable in finding ThinkProgress a new home."