Being a media reporter these days is exhausting. Between the never-ending Trump news cycle and major upheaval in the media business, it seems like the news never stops coming. For Mark Glaser, it’s time to take a breather.
After twelve years running MediaShift, Glaser announced earlier this month that he is shutting down the editorial operation, shifting its focus to journalism trainings and events. He has already let go of eight staffers and signed off on the site’s podcasts and newsletters.
“Running an online publication takes a lot of hard work,” Glaser said in an interview with MediaFile. “I just needed a break.”
— Mark Glaser (@mediatwit) April 9, 2018
Glaser started MediaShift in 2006 as a blog. MediaShift was later purchased by PBS, where it was hosted for several years before becoming an independent site. Though smaller and less well-known than some other news sites covering media and journalism, MediaShift carved out a niche for itself. Its coverage of journalism education and media metrics distinguished the site from other outlets covering media. Glaser’s weekly podcast regularly attracted high-profile figures in the media world, including guests such as HuffPost Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen, the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan, and famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams.
For now, there will be no new content on the website, though old articles will remain online. Glaser is looking for someone to take over the site and says several organizations, including journalism schools and news outlets, have expressed interest.
With a few employees, Glaser will still run trainings funded by a grant that ends in November. What Glaser will do after is still up in the air, but he doubts he will jump right back into media reporting.
“It’s not the happiest subject at the moment,” Glaser said. “Do I really want my mind and what I’m looking at every day to be about that? It would be nice to be thinking about other things.”
Still, Glaser sees media as a critical topic and hopes to see a new owner take MediaShift’s reporting further. The site’s changing mission comes at a time of major disruption in the media industry. Facebook and Google’s dominance of the advertising industry has upended the business models of countless media companies. Several news outlets, including DNAinfo and LAist, have recently been shuttered by the “billionaire problem,” leaving reporters and editors wondering what will become of their older work on those sites.
In the case of MediaShift, Glaser says the reason for ending the editorial operation was more personal. He hopes to hand off the editorial content to a “good steward” who will uphold MediaShift’s mission at an important turning point for media reporting.
“It is a difficult time to be covering media and I think it’s an important time,” Glaser said. “I think all the things we’ve been covering have just become bigger and bigger topics over the years, so…it could do really well in the hands of someone who really believes in it and understands it.”