Sixteen years is a good run for a website, but it’s never easy to end something that felt like a success. Jezebel, a feminist website that launched in 2007, is being shut down by its parent company, G/OMedia. The website was considered a pioneer in feminist news, influencing many other websites focused on news that impacts women. Unfortunately, the publication was suspended on November 9. G/O’s media chief, Jim Spanfeller, said “despite every effort, we could not find Jez a new home.”
23 employees lost their jobs
Jezebel’s shutdown comes as a shock, not only to the readers, but to the 23 staff members who are reportedly losing their jobs. G/O is restructuring its teams as part of the move. According to reports, traffic had fallen on Jezebel and some of the other sites run by G/O, which includes GizModo, The Onion, and other niche sites. Some believe that the media company relied too heavily on digital advertising to fund the “news,” which led to mismanagement of the site.
Jezebel’s founder reacts
In an interview with NPR, Anna Holmes, the founder of Jezebel, had this to say about the news, “I felt a little shocked at first, but I didn’t feel really horrible about it because I kept looking at it through the lens of other media.” Some of the early writers for Jezebel now work for more mainstream publications, giving these writers a bigger platform to address feminist issues.
Digital media news facing new hardships
Jezebel joins a list of online news companies that have shutdown or rebranded. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed News closed and lost 15% of its workforce. Just a few weeks ago, the NY Times reported that online platforms are breaking up with news, “because it generates polarized debates.”
News sites traffic has dropped across the board. Even the Wall Street Journal has seen a decline in views from social media. We shouldn’t be surprised that a niche news website like Jezebel couldn’t generate enough readership to stay relevant in today’s market.
AI is changing how users get answers. Instead of having to click through to find the answer, AI can answer questions in minutes, which is also a concern for many news organizations. Let’s hope we don’t wake up in 10 to 15 years without reliable journalist websites.