The Awl — a small network of websites, including the Hairpin, the Billfold, and the namesake flagship — announced this morning that it will cease publication at the end of the month. The announcement marks the latest in a string of small websites with loyal followings, unable to find a sustainable business model amid a rapidly changing digital-media industry often at the whims of tech-industry gatekeepers.
“For nearly a decade we followed a dream of building a better Internet, and though we did not manage to do that every day we tried very hard and we hope you don’t blame us for how things ultimately turned out,” the site’s editors write. The site — started by former Gawker editors Choire Sicha and Alex Balk in 2009, and closely read for nearly a decade by coastal media insiders (as well as a smaller but dedicated group of non-coastal non-media outsiders) — was one of a slew of smaller publishers to make the transition over to publishing platform Medium in 2017, finding subsidy and in search of a better business model. Alas, the site transitioned off of Medium after only a year.
The loss of the Awl means the loss of yet another smaller, looser, more adventurous site where young writers could establish their voice. Many of the bloggers you know and love — including writers and editors at the New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, Vice, Vox Media, the remnants of what was once called Gawker Media Group, and, yes, New York — got a career kick-start with a byline or two at the Awl. It will be sorely missed.