Last month a report at the Daily Beast highlighted some money and morale problems at progressive news site ThinkProgress which is associated with the progressive think tank Center for American Progress (CAP). The site has lost several million dollars over the last two years and was shedding writers. The remaining staff had been told to be on the lookout for other jobs. Yesterday the Daily Beast had a follow-up report announcing that TP was being put up for sale:
ThinkProgress has never been profitable. In the past, it has made up its shortfalls with contributions from CAP and CAP donors. Several ThinkProgress alums told The Daily Beast that they believed that CAP could continue covering the deficit but had concluded that the site was too much of an editorial headache and too big a financial drain for them to rationalize doing so.
The site had already been shaving down payroll to try and close the financial gap, with staff size being reduced from the high of 40 to under 35. But according to a CAP official, the cuts were not enough to make it possible to continue operating the site.
It was not made immediately clear just how long CAP would look for a suitor for ThinkProgress and whether or not the site would be shuttered if no suitor was found. A CAP Action source said that they would “conduct a thorough and diverse search of potential publishers.”
The other big question is the price. Given the ongoing losses and the fact that the site has never earned a profit, you’d almost have to pay someone to take it. But it has happened before. Remember back in 2010 Newsweek was sold to Sidney Harmon for $1 (he agreed to take on all of their debt). Perhaps CAP can make a similar deal. There must be some progressive billionaire out there willing to take a loss for the chance to pump left-wing agitprop into the political atmosphere.
CAP is reportedly looking at a $3 million shortfall because of TP so I don’t think they are going to spend a really long time looking. Maybe this has a month left, maybe six weeks. If and when it collapses, I’m sure most of the writers will find work at other, similar sites. There are still plenty of them out there.