The site faces a shortfall of $3 million this year with $350,000 attributed to a loss of digital ad sales, the Daily Beast reported, citing internal documents.
ThinkProgress was started in 2005 by the Center for American Progress Action Fund to highlight key issues like healthcare reform, climate change, gun control and social justice.
The site has never turned a profit, despite building an online audience that totaled 7.5 million unique visitors in June. CAP, which reported donations of more than $50 million in 2017, and its financial backers helped to cover those losses.
Former ThinkProgress employees said CAP could cover the losses, but perhaps had decided the site was too much of a financial drain, the Daily Beast reported. ThinkProgress cut staff from more than 40 people to less than 35 to stem the losses.
“Unfortunately, like so many other news outlets that have relied on advertising to fund its work, ThinkProgress has seen a significant drop in revenue in recent years, along with other financial strains,” Navin Nayak, executive director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, stated.
Former staffers of ThinkProgress include Alyssa Rosenberg, the culture and opinion writer for The Washington Post, and Matthew Yglesias, who later cofounded Vox with Ezra Klein and Melissa Bell.
Nayak said CAP would consider the political leanings and ideology of any prospective buyer to ensure they are in line with ThinkProgress’ mission.
Monetizing ThinkProgress will be a challenge for any buyer, given the site’s small readership and yearly losses. The migration of ad dollars to social-media companies with greater scale and more advanced audience targeting is an industrywide challenge for digital publishers.
Also, much of ThinkProgress’ coverage can be found elsewhere, making it more difficult to stand out in a crowded field. By focusing its editorial scope to a few key areas where a smaller staff can secure major scoops picked up elsewhere, ThinkProgress may be able carve out a stronger market position.