Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
From newsroom to newsletter: How local journalists are DIYing important coverage via email
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Feb. 28, 2018, 11:19 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: digiday.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   February 28, 2018

The happy-news-focused, video-dominant, Facebook-dependent publisher LittleThings has some unhappy news. After four years spent accumulating more than 12 million followers on Facebook, doing a lot of video programming (including investment in Facebook Live shows), and building a team of 100 employees across the country, LittleThings is shutting down and laying off all its staff. The closure, announced on Tuesday and first reported by Digiday, is in large part a result of Facebook’s latest news feed changes that re-emphasized friends and family sharing and de-emphasized passive consumption of video. (LittleThings had also been crossposting its shows onto Facebook’s new pet section Watch, though wasn’t monetizing that video, according to Digiday.)

LittleThings CEO Joe Spieser and president Gretchen Tibbits wrote in a memo to staff about the company’s closure that Facebook’s news feed changes were “catastrophic” and led to a 75 percent drop in organic traffic for the publisher. “No previous algorithm update ever came close to this level of decimation.” Business Insider has the full memo here:

As most of you remember, we took some especially large setbacks in August 2017, but were able to quickly right the ship, and rebuild the company with new business lines and revenue streams. Instead of waiting for the next Facebook newsfeed update, we entered into a sale-process in November that would allow us to merge with a large media entity that could bring our business diversification of both traffic and revenue. By early February we had numerous acquisition offers for LittleThings that would have generated a substantial return for everyone’s options, as well as guarantee their careers well into the future.

Unfortunately, as we were receiving those offers a full on catastrophic update to Facebook’s algorithm took effect. The prioritization of friends/family content over publishers was the last straw.

At 10am ET, LittleThings’ last live morning show, Refresh, turned to the absurd and then sadness as its hosts cried, expressed surprise that the company was shutting down so abruptly, talked about leaving New York (“New York is awful”), and thanked colleagues and community. Mournful comments flooded the page.

There are other social publishers working in the same vein as LittleThings to watch:

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
From newsroom to newsletter: How local journalists are DIYing important coverage via email
Just as blogging allowed a new cadre of journalists to work outside established news organizations in the early 2000s, the email newsletter boom has done the same in local communities. “This is more than 40 hours a week for far less than minimum wage. To be frank, it’s exhausting. I only do it because it’s so important.”
Apple should do for news in Safari on mobile what Google has done for news in Chrome
Your iPhone is very good at directing your attention. What if it could be a little bit better at directing it toward news?
The Washington Post now offers 20 weeks of paid parental leave; here’s what other U.S. news orgs provide
The Wall Street Journal: 20 weeks. The New York Times offers 16 to 18 weeks for birth mothers and 10 weeks for non–birth parents.