Why publishers are rethinking their pursuit of huge numbers

After years of making scale the name of the game, a number of publishers are retreating from scale. While most still rely heavily on traffic generated from aggregation, or repurposing information published elsewhere, or highlighting trending content, newer publishers are either ignoring aggregation and fast-twitch tactics altogether or using them far less. The legacy players are trying to minimize the cost of producing that content and finding ways to wring more money out of it. 

A few may even be looking to shrink the overall number of stories they publish. In its recently released internal report, The New York Times concluded that “too many” of the hundreds of stories it published on a daily basis “lack significant impact or audience” and that they failed in the most basic function that Times’ content ought to serve: to make it a “valuable destination.”

“The industry’s kind of in a retreat,” said Josh Topolsky, the founder of The Outline. “People are numb to the volume right now.”

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