Hundreds of journalists are now unemployed after eight-month-old media startup The Messenger folded yesterday. Staffers learned they didn’t have jobs from news reports, instead of from their managers. This is terrible, and my heart goes out to them and their families. Blame for this needs to be directed toward the startup’s founders, especially media entrepreneur Jimmy Finkelstein, who arrogantly believed that they could spend their way out of what was widely considered a stupid business strategy of a bygone era, as Nieman Lab highlighted in May 2023:

The Messenger thinks it will reach 100 million monthly uniques on the back of bland aggregation. (That’s only slightly smaller than The New York Times’ audience.) It thinks it can support a 550-person newsroom on programmatic advertising. The Messenger thinks the right pitch for a site funded by Republican megadonors and run by the guy who brought the world John Solomon is: “We’re the unbiased ones!”

The failure is already being seen as one of the most significant, rapid collapses in the history of news. It follows weeks of terrible news for media workers, including historic layoffs at The Los Angeles Times. Prominent journalists had been lured away by The Messenger from relatively secure jobs at other major news organizations to join the startup. The question now: What kind of industry is left to employ them?