A post on The Washington Independent announced today that the three-year-old online startup will be shutting down as of December 1. It notes that despite the awards it won for its investigative work, the site couldn’t translate their journalistic success into profits.
An excerpt of editor Aaron Wiener’s goodbye:
But TWI was not just a journalistic experiment; it was also a financial one, and ultimately, the successes of the former couldn’t sustain the strains of the latter. Our first year was marked by a kind of exceptionalism, the feeling that we were expanding as other newsrooms were contracting, that this new model of journalism would survive as our dead-tree colleagues struggled. But in the end, we fell prey to the recession just like everyone else.
The Washington Independent launched in January 2008 as a branch of the nonprofit American Independent News Network, funded by foundation grants and individual donors. In addition to its current team, TWI published writing by Spencer Ackerman, David Weigel, and Annie Lowery; previous editors included Allison Silver, Laura McGann, and Mary Kane.
When the announcement went up online today, Spencer Ackerman wrote on Twitter:
Dear editors: you’ll be making great decisions by hiring Aaron Weiner, Jesse Zwick, Elise Foley, Andrew Restuccia & the @TWI_news staff
Garance Franke-Ruta over at Politerati has an interview with American Independent News Network CEO David Bennahum about the difficult decision to shut the Washington Independent down. Dave Weigel, writing at Slate, has some reflections on his time at TWI and the strengths and weaknesses of its model.
Shortly after the announcement about The Washington Independent came the news that another site published by the American Independent News Network, The New Mexico Independent, is also shutting down.