Laura Bassett Statement Regarding the Shuttering of Magazines the Pacific Standard and Governing

WASHINGTON, DC – In today’s big-tech dominated media climate, news of mergers, closures and layoffs are all too familiar to the industry. Facebook, Google and Apple’s monopolistic control of the online marketplace is steamrolling competition and destroying the business model for news outlets. Magazines like Governing and the Pacific Standard are being forced to close their doors after the publications lost essential revenue and funding streams. 

Executives from Governing Magazine, an outlet that covered state and local governments nationwide for more than three decades, announced yesterday, August 7, that September will be its last monthly print magazine, with online presence dwindling in the following months. 

Even with news of the devastating loss of Governing Magazine, writer Mattie Quinn celebrated and spotlighted her fellow colleagues on Twitter offering their skills and journalistic abilities to other publications. When you’re up against tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook, resilience is just part of the gig. 

The Pacific Standard relied on philanthropy to sustain its operations, a business model that has been suggested as a possible alternative structure for the journalism industry in the digital era. But with little warning from its funder, editors from the Pacific Standard broke the news that its well ran dry – kicking its staff to the curb and leaving them jobless and discouraged. Even though the magazine had made recent hires and had projects in motion, the Pacific Standard will shutter effective Friday, August 16. 

Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Jackson tweeted “We sent reporters to Afghanistan and the Maldives…We’ve reported from all 50 states, the U.S. territories, and opened a second office in Washington, D.C., to report on the biggest social justice stories of our time. And we did all of this while promoting transparency, and investing heavily in fact-checking, copy-editing, legal review, proofreading, all of the expensive things that are often the first to go we held on ’til the end.”

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, regarding the industry’s losses: 

The loss of both Governing and the Pacific Standard magazines, publications with different revenue and funding models, underscores the existential threat facing the journalism industry in the digital age. With Google and Facebook taking the majority of digital advertising revenue, some publications have sought alternative funding sources. The Pacific Standard was one such publication, receiving most of its funding from a foundation. But that model did not spare the magazine from the same fate as far too many other publications over the last several years. 

Governing and the Pacific Standard magazines were a vital part of one of the foundations of American democracy. Journalism is the only industry literally written into the Constitution. But the economic sustainability of our industry is now in serious doubt, because the tech giants are destroying its business model by lining their pockets with the advertising revenue that used to sustain news publishers. We can’t continue to let the monopolistic power of Google, Facebook and Apple go unchecked or else we risk watching one of our Constitutional rights, access to the free press, simply disappear.