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Key links:
Primary website:
tumblr.com
Primary Twitter:
@tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging platform created in 2007 by David Karp and Marco Arment and owned by Yahoo.

Tumblr is often referred to as a “microblogging” service because its features are designed for simplicity. Though the blogs offer users background themes and other design options, Tumblr is not as customizable as platforms like WordPress or Blogger. Tumblr allows users to post text, images, video, quotes, links or audio through a basic content management system. Tumblr also incorporates elements of social media, as users can follow each other or “reblog” items posted by others. Its distinct style has been recognized as an important evolution in the form of blogging. It has also been an important platform for social TV activity, similar to Twitter.

In June 2013, Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion, pledging that it would run Tumblr as an independent company, though noting that it planned to add more advertisements to Tumblr blogs.

As of September 2013 Tumblr had 140 million users. Before its purchase by Yahoo, the site raised a total of $125 million in venture-capital funds.

Tumblr and the media

Media organizations began establishing a presence on Tumblr in 2010. Much like Twitter and Facebook, news outlets began using Tumblr as an alternate channel for content and as a new means of connecting with readers. Newsweek was among the early adopters, using Tumblr as a place to promote stories in the magazine as well as links and images. By May 2011, at least 60 publications were active on Tumblr.

Newsweek’s Tumblr was also noteworthy for its voice, which was looser and more humorous in tone than the magazine. Mark Coatney, the Newsweek.com editor behind the effort, joined the staff of Tumblr in July 2010 as a “media evangelist” for the company.

Beginning in late 2010 Tumblr introduced features aimed at helping users discover more blogs that also had the consequence of aiding in the curation of news. Tumblr’s curated tag pages allow a select group of editors to tag posts in areas such as news and fashion, as well as event-specific tags related to news like the 2011 revolution in Egypt.

Tumblr has ventured into producing its own original media content, sending correspondents to the 2012 U.S. political conventions to post content to a Tumblr election site. It created a four-person editorial team called Storyboard in 2012 but dissolved it in 2013.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
May 8, 2014 / Ken Doctor
The newsonomics of three cracks at the mobile news puzzle — Mobile first. Two devilishly simple words that, at this point, tell us so little. By now, it’s common knowledge that most companies producing digital news are approaching — and at times surpassing — the mobile-...
April 23, 2014 / Justin Ellis
Q&A: Craig Mod on making writing more mobile-friendly and where digital publishing is headed — Craig Mod spends a lot of time in motion. He’s also spends no small amount of time thinking — and writing — about the future of publishing and the ways technology is transforming how we write and what we read. ...
Sept. 11, 2013 / Justin Ellis
Can you build a better GIF? Zeega wants to remake the aged animation format for mobile — We have become a nation of GIFs. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But the image format has long since migrated from Tumblrcentric sideshow into the mass media. Yes, it’s BuzzFeed, but it’s also...
June 18, 2013 / Linda Kinstler
The Times of London, navigating audience with a strict paywall, retires its opinion Tumblr — When you bet on a strict, un-leaky paywall as The Times of London has, you’re forced to get creative about how to put your work in front of new audiences — particularly if you’re trying to influence their o...
May 24, 2013 / Mark Coddington
This Week in Review: Yahoo goes after Tumblr’s cool factor, and investigative reporting under fire — Yahoo snaps up Tumblr: Yahoo approved a $1.1 billion deal to buy Tumblr over the weekend, giving the company, as The New York Times’ Jenna Wortham noted, a big stake in the current wave of simpler, more personal a...

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Primary author: Justin Ellis. Main text last updated: April 24, 2014.
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