The Messenger to Close After Less Than a Year

By closing less than a year after it launched, The Messenger is now one of the biggest busts in the annals of online news.

The Messenger, a news website that pledged to shake up the media industry with a playbook borrowed from the doomed publishing start-ups of yesteryear, will be closing down, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.

It’s unclear when The Messenger will stop publishing.

By closing less than a year after it launched, The Messenger will now be one of the biggest busts in the annals of online news. And its collapse is the most substantial blow in recent months to the news industry, which is reeling from an unrelenting series of cutbacks.

The organization hired about 300 people, including journalists with experience at such publications as Politico, Reuters, NBC News and The Associated Press, who joined the company in the hopes that it would deliver on its promise to introduce an important new nonpartisan voice to the American news landscape.

Jimmy Finkelstein, the founder and chief executive of The Messenger, spoke of The Messenger’s editorial ambitions, telling The New York Times in March that he wanted the website to recall great journalism institutions like “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair. He critiqued the coverage on channels like CNN and Fox News, noting what he said were inconsistencies in coverage of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. capitol and the southern border.

Mr. Finkelstein and The Messenger’s president, magazine veteran Richard Beckman, planned to hire 550 journalists within a year, which would have put the website in a weight class with publications like The Los Angeles Times. Mr. Beckman predicted that The Messenger would generate $50 million this year. During a demo last year for The New York Times, Mr. Beckman said that he wanted The Messenger make readers “fall in love” with media again, illustrating the point with a sizzle reel scored by the Dire Straits hit “Money For Nothing.”

Mr. Finkelstein, an entrepreneur with decades of experience running publications like The Hollywood Reporter and The Hill, attracted $50 million in investments for the untested startup. The Messenger’s backers include Josh Harris, the co-founder of the private-equity giant Apollo, and Thomas Peterffy, the former chief executive of Interactive Brokers. Mr. Harris was a backer of The Hill, which Mr. Finkelstein sold to Nexstar in 2020 for $130 million.

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