Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Layoffs, acquisitions, pivots, paywalls, unions, walkouts — what a wild year it’s been for the business of content.

Here’s a roundup of stories from 2019 on how media companies are leveling up, falling apart, or getting swallowed whole.

📰The Crisis Facing American Journalism Did Not Start With the Internet

That the Gannett news is not a red-alert story in the U.S. reflects a misunderstanding of the major problems facing American newspaper companies, an economic story that goes back further than the advent of the public internet in the 1990s. [Slate]

🏙️What’s Left of Condé Nast

The things Condé Nast was…

Why online brands are helping millennials navigate the gap between aspiration and adulting

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

In an interview with Real Deal, Martha Stewart recalled something restaurateur David Chang had told her (emphasis mine):

David Chang kept saying, “Martha, you know so much and the millennials have to know this stuff! They don’t know anything and they have to learn. They want to learn but they have grown up without teachers. They know how to make money and how to develop software, but they don’t know how to plant a tree. They don’t know how to grow spinach.”

David’s condescension aside, there is…

Snapchat’s resident sociologist talks selfies, screen time, and our obsession with authenticity

Photo: Steve Gale/Unsplash

Dissecting the exploits of social media photographers has become a new national pastime. Just this week, Vox reported on influencers chartering a tour to a beautiful Arizona canyon on an Instagrammable rite of passage, and the New York Times chronicled models flocking to a Siberian chemical waste dump for the perfect lakefront shot.

This comes just a few weeks after Twitter lit up with a misleading, now-deleted tweet shaming people who snapped selfies at the Chernobyl disaster site. That post triggered a viral pile-on from celebrities and journalists and rabid fans of then-one-month-old HBO miniseries Chernobyl. And years before that…

You may have noticed more magazines and newspapers setting up paywalls as part of a larger trend some call the “pivot to paid.”

Well, one publisher is pivoting to paint.

Dotdash, the digital media company that grew from, recently rolled out a home paint collection branded after its home decor site, The Spruce. The Spruce Best Home paint line can be purchased through Amazon and offers 32 colors with names like Cold Brew, Matcha, Minimalist Look, and Electric Kumquat.

This seems weird, right? A website that makes its money off SEO-optimized articles about DIY all-purpose cleaner is suddenly trying…

Hal Koss

Hal is a writer and editor living in Chicago.

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