How platforms killed Pitchfork

Today let’s examine the latest case of platform dynamics reshaping the digital media landscape, claiming as a victim one of the most culturally influential publications of the past two decades: 

Pitchfork, the venerable news and reviews site that for a time was among the most powerful tastemakers in music.

On Wednesday, Semafor’s Maxwell Tani shared an internal memo from Condè Nast, which had acquired the formerly independent publication in 2015. 

Pitchfork is being merged into GQ, chief content officer Anna Wintour announced; as part of the move, Pitchfork editor in chief Puja Patel is leaving the company. 

No further staff reductions were announced, though they seem inevitable.

This decision was made after a careful evaluation of Pitchfork's performance and what we believe is the best path forward for the brand so that our coverage of music can continue to thrive within the company," Wintour wrote.

For a certain kind of millennial, the news hit like a death in the family. 

“I can’t imagine my relationship to myself without Pitchfork. 

It was the dominant voice in music criticism when my taste was an untouched ball of clay and it molded me accordingly.” 

As a longtime and once diehard reader of the site, my feelings tracked exactly with Cox’s. 

Created by Ryan Schreiber in 1996 while he worked at a record store outside of Minneapolis, Pitchfork came to prominence in the early 2000s on the back of its obsessive, audacious, and (yes) often obnoxious reviews.