The influential website The Awl and its sister website The Hairpin, which is geared towards women, announced on Tuesday that they will be shutting down. Known for showcasing writing about eccentric and offbeat topics, the platforms have featured content ranging from David Foster Wallace’s self-help library to the dos and don’ts of time traveling. A decline in ad revenue was cited as the reason for the closures.
Michael Macher, the publisher of the Awl Network, told Benjamin Mullin of the Wall Street Journal that “We’ve always been somewhat intentionally small, and scale has become increasingly important for securing large ad deals.” He added, “It’s a structural shift with the way media buyers and agencies relate to publishersand for better or worse less of those dollars are falling to indie publishers.”
“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 Awl said in a statement. “We’re intensely proud of what we managed to accomplish over the years, and while most of the credit goes to an astoundingly talented team of writers and editors, the greatest achievement any site can claim is in the quality and fervor of its audience, and on that score we feel like we were the most successful organization ever.”
The Awl was founded by journalists Choire Sicha, Alex Balk, and David Cho in 2009. Silvia Killingsworth has served as the editor of both sites since 2016. In an interview with the New York Times she said, “The common thread of all great Awl pieces is that the writing is so indicative of who the writer is and what their interests are. It’s a place for the writers to just be themselves.”
Three full-time employees will be out of work as a result of the closures. Editorial operations will officially cease at the end of the month.