Nieman Foundation at Harvard
How YouTube’s recommendations pull you away from news
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
April 24, 2018, 12:16 p.m.
Business Models
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   April 24, 2018

It launched in 2014 with ambitions to be more than just a “BuzzFeed” for young women. Now, the UK-based digital publication The Debrief is shutting down. Parent company Bauer Media, a European media group that owns hundreds of other publications worldwide, is folding some of The Debrief’s editorial staff into the newsroom of the company’s women’s magazine Grazia.

“We are sad to announce that it has been proposed that The Debrief, our much-loved brand that connected with so many young women will cease publication,” read the announcement on The Debrief’s website on Tuesday. “Despite achieving so much in the last four years and winning a slew of awards, sadly we cannot see a viable future for this brand as it stands.”

I reached out to The Debrief and will update this post with any details about the decision to end its operation as a standalone site. I’m not sure if a plummet in the publication’s engagement rates on Facebook ultimately had a hand in the decision but here’s its CrowdTangle data from the past two years:

The site, which published stories ranging shorter news and lifestyle pieces to hefty investigations, had been a springboard for many women writers (see just this small selection of in-memoriams on Twitter). It had very recently gotten into podcasting.

A press release on Bauer Media’s own site spun the closure differently:

Bauer Media has today announced plans to invest in the Grazia digital editorial team in order to drive growth and better serve its audience. New team members will be added to the Grazia online team to grow traffic and engagement across the site. As a result of the decision to increase focus and resource on Grazia, we are proposing to cease publication of The Debrief.

Grazia and The Debrief’s audiences, more than ever, are unified by their outlook and shared interests. Both audiences will now be served by Grazia online, whose breadth, unique voice, fashion authority and coverage of politics and news has a broad appeal amongst women in a rapidly changing social landscape.

The Debrief had been Bauer Media’s attempt to capture a younger audience; it launched at a time when several magazine publishers were testing completely new sites as a way to gain a younger generation of readers, rather than using their existing brands.

“With its unapologetically frank, inclusive and feminist tone, The Debrief changed the way brands engage with and speak to their audience online,” Lauren Holleyoake, launch publisher of The Debrief, said in Bauer Media’s release. “We created a brand that really ‘got’ our audience and their lives in a way no-one had before.”

Show tags
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
How YouTube’s recommendations pull you away from news
Plus: News participation is declining, online and offline; making personal phone calls could help with digital-subscriber churn; and partly automated news videos seem to work with audiences.
Apple brings free call recording and transcription to iPhones; journalists rejoice
“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.”
What can The Wall Street Journal’s new ad campaign tell us about its future?
The new brand campaign is aimed at younger versions of existing Journal readers. The various “It’s Your Business” ads center some of the newsroom’s edgier and more evergreen journalism.