The owner of the women-focused website Jezebel announced it has stopped publishing content last week after failing to find a buyer.
Jezebel, a news and commentary site focused on the woman’s perspective, shut down publication last week. As of Nov. 9, the site stopped publishing new content after 16 years.
The suspension of publishing followed the layoff of its staff by parent company G/O Media, USA Today reported.
“While G/O Media is a lean, nimble organization, we are not immune to the economic headwinds rattling our business,” CEO Jim Spanfeller wrote . “Unfortunately, our business model and the audiences we serve across our network did not align with Jezebel’s.”
He said two dozen “potential buyers” expressed interest, but they couldn’t find the site a new home.
But don’t expect the final story to be a farewell. At least, it isn’t at the moment. The last story, published Nov. 9, is about presidential candidate, former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. I think that’s a major mistake. The portion of the site’s audience that has followed its content — even for a short time — deserves a goodbye.
It’s a lot like TV shows that have been on for a long time. TVLand ran the finale of M*A*S*H on Veterans Day. The show had aired for 11 seasons when it aired that final episode. At the time, that show was the most-watched TV event in history.
The two-and-a-half-hour finale gave each of the major characters a story and an ending. The viewers who’d followed it for so long got the emotional goodbye they wanted.
I think that same sense of closure is important for a website, whether it’s a blog or a news site. They surely had regular followers. Those followers should get the chance to have that same farewell.
Website demise is ‘end of an era of feminism’
The Guardian lamented the shuttering of the website. In an editorial, Moira Donegan said it would be the “end of an era of feminism.”
The site’s closure will mean that its robust abortion coverage will cease; so will its investigations into sexual abuse and its feminist critiques of culture and politics.Moira Donegan
She said that while media companies “stumbled” at the turn of the last century, the internet made paid advertising “dramatically less profitable.” Add to that the fact that digital media has “not been able to eke out sufficient profit growth as social media evolves and fractures.”
That, she says, means attracting traffic becomes harder and harder. The loss of traffic means the loss of ad revenue. That, in turn, translates to the lack of profitability.
Unfortunately, many media companies have failed to find a way to make a “sufficient” profit on digital. The return on investment — which includes staff and technical facilities — is low.
Even a national site like Jezebel, which one would assume had a large audience, didn’t seem to have enough of a large audience.
Lauren Tousignant, who was running the site, took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to state her thoughts on the news:
“Will have more to say soon, but for now, I am just so pissed and so sad, but mostly I’m so pissed,” she said.
From Donegan’s point of view, Tousignant has every right to be “so pissed.” Donegan said the site had the potential to be “respectably profitable,” but not “exponentially profitable.”
“In this story, Jezebel became a casualty of greed,” she said, laying the blame on the private equity group that owned it. But the owner gets to make those decisions…and if the owner can’t find a new owner to take on the apparent lack of “exponential profitability,” that’s not going to bode well for the product, no matter how “respectably profitable” it might be.
Maybe a new version of the site will launch at some point in the future. But in the meantime, all we can really say is “Rest in peace, Jezebel.”