Tani posted a screenshot, apparently showing the note to Pitchfork's staff by Anna Wintour, Condé Nast's Chief Content Officer:
Today we are evolving our Pitchfork team structure by bringing the team into the GQ organization. This decision was made after a careful evaluation of Pitchfork's performance and what we believe is the best path forward for the brand so that our coverage of music can continue to thrive within the company.
The note further indicates that the current editor, Puja Patel, will also leave the company. She replaced the site's founder, Ryan Schreiber, in 2018. According to the New York Times, Condé Nast declined to comment on how many employees will lose their jobs.
Blog Turned Corporate
The origins of Pitchfork date back to 1996 when Ryan Schreiber created the website. The early music blog grew significantly and became a landmark in online music journalism—even organising their own music festivals starting in 2005.
In October 2015, Condé Nast, the publisher of magazines like Vogue, Wired, and The New Yorker. It is unknown how much Condé Nast paid for the acquisition. However, Fred Santarpia, the publisher's chief digital officer then, said: «Pitchfork is profitable, and it boasts a thriving live events business, with events in Chicago and Paris, and robust video offerings — both vital and growing parts of the publishing business.»
Pitchfork's acquisition was the last stepping stone of a blog that reached the heights of the corporate publishing world. Around the same time, other digital media offsprings like Vice or Buzzfeed saw their glory days.
In recent months and years, all these former blog echelons saw a critical decline. Vice filed for bankruptcy last year, Buzzfeed shut down its news division, and now Pitchfork becomes the latest poster child to see what is probably its downfall.
Although Pitchfork's advertising page still boasts that the site reaches a «loyal audience of more than 7 million monthly unique visitors», the accuracy of this number is likely low as the information has not changed since 2016.
Wintour's note unveils apparent problems through the corporate phrase «a careful evaluation of Pitchfork's performance,» which translates to a failing business model.
What the folding of Pitchfork's staff into GQ means for the brand is yet to be clarified. Will it disappear or remain a standalone website? So far, no information has been provided that answers this question.
However, the news is again a clear indication that music journalism in its current form can not survive in the corporate world with an advertising-based business model. While titles like Rolling Stone Magazine can still feed off the nostalgia factor, online magazines seem to struggle much more.