Tumblr axes its newsroom (yes, it had one)

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Tumblr StoryboardThis rather bland statement from Tumblr CEO David Karp hides something interesting:

What we’ve accomplished with Storyboard has run its course for now, and our editorial team will be closing up shop and moving on. I want to personally thank them for their great work. And please join us in wishing them well.

Storyboard was their experiment to create a newsroom team within the company, highlighting the best of the content shared within the blogging platform. And now it’s dead and gone. Ken Yeung puts it more brutally for The Next Web:

On Tuesday, Tumblr announced that it was laying off its entire editorial team responsible for its Storyboard service. A year after the company created the team of journalists and editors to help cover it as a “living, breathing community”, founder David Karp said that Tumblr’s experiment had come to an end.

Storyboard was always an odd idea. Putting a meta-curational layer over a service that is curational at its heart seemed like a redundancy and so it proved. Tumblr users are already great at finding and highlight good metrical within their service. They don’t really need journalists to do that for them.

I suspect that we’ll see more of this. Brand journalism is one of those ideas that has gone from an abstract though to wide-spread adoption in far too short a spec of time, without any real rigour applied to the whys, the hows and the “how much” in particular – both how much it will cost and how much value it brings to the company. Storyboard was a cool idea that wasn’t properly thought through; the mere existence of good quality content doesn’t create value unless there’s a sensible strategy underlying it – and there doesn’t seem to have been a good one here.

It sometimes feels like the amount of content strategy seen on the web is inversely proportional to the number of people with “content strategist” in their job title…

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.