ThinkProgress, the website that is a project of the Democratic Party’s primary think tank, is facing dire financial troubles and bleeding staff, according to primary-source documents viewed by The Daily Beast.
A budget document provided to ThinkProgress management and obtained by The Daily Beast showed that the website was expecting a roughly $3 million gulf between revenue and expenses for 2019. ThinkProgress has never been a revenue generator, and has often made up for its deficits through fundraising efforts and funds from its mothership entity, the Center for American Progress (CAP). But the current outlook is significantly worse than ever before.
According to the document, advertising revenue is projected to fall $350,000 short of what was budgeted this year, and online contributions are expected to fall short by nearly $180,000. The site is projected to have about $64,000 in grant revenue (money derived from donations to CAP and meant for coverage by ThinkProgress) in 2019. That’s roughly $60,000 short of what it had budgeted for the year and roughly $540,000 less than it received in 2018.
In the face of these falling revenue streams, ThinkProgress has seen payroll drop by 12 percent from its peak level in 2019 and “salary growth” by 5 percent, according to the document. Among those leaving is the site’s managing editor, Tara Culp-Ressler, who announced her departure last week.
The numbers paint a grim picture for one of the better-known, unapologetically progressive media platforms. And it has been exacerbated by what a source described as a failure of leadership at CAP to provide answers about “the short- and long-term future of the site.” ThinkProgress is editorially independent from CAP and the accompanying Center for American Progress Action Fund, but operates within its organizational umbrella.
ThinkProgress launched in 2005 and quickly made a name for itself as a liberal-minded blog and sharp critic of the George W. Bush administration. Along the way, it became a launching pad for prominent political and journalism careers. Its former editor in chief, Faiz Shakir, is Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2020 campaign manager.
Talking of Sen. Sanders, he has been none too happy with CAP, particularly in recent months.
As Think Tank Watch previously noted, ThinkProgress staff unionized back in 2015.