The media and writing world was blindsided this week by Yahoo’s announcement that it would shutter its Voices section. Originally called Associated Content, the Web search and entertainment giant purchased the site in the hopes of expanding it’s reach.
Despite the shock and dismay shown by some writers, this decision by Yahoo really is not all that a big a surprise. Though Voices was highly regarded in the writing and journalism world for its quality reputation, there had been signs of something brewing for a while. Staffing cuts, lack of available paid assignments, and a deterioration of communication between contributors and editorial staff were all red flags. Combined with the fact Yahoo has been desperately attempting to win back business from Google, this decision seems more and more an inevitable conclusion.
What makes this a sad day for writers is that Voices’ disappearance is the loss of an outlet considered a sound jumping off point for fresh talent. Many other mass-media websites, so-called “content mills,” have become hotbeds for ideologically driven writers with zero editorial credibility and, in some cases, have been hijacked as fronts for hate groups. For all Yahoo’s flaws, they were diligent about filtering out questionable material.
Unfortunately the internet is as much about profitability as it is popularity. With other sites such as Patch and Hubpages dealing.with revenue issues, the era of.independent writing being a viable option for writers may give way to a new era of content mills. Sadly it is really the reader, not the website, who suffers.