Earlier this month, we learned that Byliner, the digital longform journalism platform launched in 2011, is looking for partners to continue sustaining its operation.
An email to contributors, published originally by PandoDaily, reads:
“We’ve struggled to reach the level of growth we’d been hoping for the business, and thus we’ve begun conversations with possible partners about the future of Byliner. We’re working to find a good home for our platform and your stories, and we’ll be in touch shortly with specifics about your titles.”
Not good news. Since then, co-founder Mark Bryant, executive editor Laura Hohnhold and now co-founder/CEO John Tayman have found the exit door at Byliner, a San Francisco startup. At this point, contributors are left wondering what Byliner’s fate will be, and the company — once lauded as a paradigm for longform journalism online — must rely on partners to boost Byliner.
But the more important question may be, ‘Do we still need Byliner?’ Perhaps Byliner’s troubles underscore a general sense of apathy toward longform, or highlight a lessening need for long publishers like this one.
On the other hand, outfits like The Big Roundtable and The New New South have popped up over the last year, BuzzFeed is taking longform more seriously and Longreads is still hanging on (and they don’t even require subscriptions like Byliner does). Aeon and Matter/Medium commission longform that performs well, and The Atavist relies in part on the licensing sales of its software platform The Creativist to be successful financially.