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Three years into nonprofit ownership, The Philadelphia Inquirer is still trying to chart its future
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Jan. 17, 2018, 11:35 a.m.
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LINK: www.wsj.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   January 17, 2018

EXPLOITATION, PERSONAL ESSAYS, BRANDS, INFLUENCERS, SCAMS, SNAPCHAT, SNAPCHAT IS WHERE BRANDS CAN EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN COOL WAYS, DUMB MONEY, NOBODY LEARNS, THEY’LL BE FINE EITHER WAY. Goodbye to The Awl, Awl Tags, to The Hairpin. The sites are shutting down at the end of this month, they announced Tuesday.

For a long time, The Awl and The Hairpin were so good. (The two other sites in the Awl network — The Billfold and Splitsider — are sticking around, at least for now.) David Carr wrote about them in 2010: “The Awl confronts the tyranny of small numbers in an age when Web behemoths, like Gawker Media and The Huffington Post, get most of the attention.” Wirecutter got its start at The Awl, in 2011. There was that big Verge profile in 2015, which made it seem not crazy that Vox might buy The Awl and just let its do its thing. Silvia Killingsworth, who’d been managing editor at The New Yorker, became editor-in-chief of both The Awl and The Hairpin in 2016. The Awl also moved over to Medium, for a year between 2016 and 2017, but seemed to lose momentum there, then came back to WordPress. “The move to Medium was a cool experiment, in my opinion, but the year is up and personally I missed the ads,” Killingsworth wrote at the time.

“We’ve always been somewhat intentionally small, and scale has become increasingly important for securing large ad deals,” Awl publisher Michael Macher told The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin. “It’s a structural shift with the way media buyers and agencies relate to publishers — and for better or worse less of those dollars are falling to indie publishers.”

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The sites’ archives will stay up, Killingsworth said. “I had the best time editing the sites and discovering new talent,” she said in an email. “There’s a very specific pleasure in matching a writer to the subject on which she’ll flourish, and that was what The Awl did best — put the enthusiasm first, and gave new and inexperienced writers a chance.”

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