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Tumblr closes Storyboard, lays off three key editorial staff

storyboardIn an apparent attempt to cut operating costs, Tumblr has abruptly announced the closure of Storyboard, its internally-curated news blog, within a year of its much-publicized launch.

Tumblr CEO David Karp made the announcement via a post on the company’s official staff blog this week. “A year ago, Tumblr did something unprecedented,” he wrote, “we created an editorial team of experienced journalists and editors assigned to cover Tumblr as a living, breathing community. The team’s mandate was to tell the stories of Tumblr creators in a truly thoughtful way — focusing on the people, their work, and their stories. The result of this ambitious experiment was Storyboard.”

Despite “hundreds of stories and videos, features by publishers ranging from Time to MTV to WNYC” and award nominations for Storyboard and its work, however, Karp explained that “what we’ve accomplished with Storyboard has run its course for now, and our editorial team will be closing up shop and moving on.” No other explanation for the closure was given, although some believe that the reason comes down to a simple economic proposition.

Susan Etlinger, an analyst with research firm Altimeter, rationalized Storyboard’s end with the New York Times. “Tumblr has taken in a lot of money and is trying to get to profitability this year… They are looking to cut anything that does not contribute to the bottom line,” she said. “I think it may be as simple as that.” Most obviously, laying off the full-time staff of three responsible for curating Storyboard would save the company some money, especially considering the crowdsourced curation model that Tumblr operates on outside of the Storyboard site. Why pay people when others will do the same work for free? goes the thinking, doubtlessly.

However, although Tumblr has officially closed Storyboard, the site – and content – may not be as dead as things appear. Mashable reports that the site would be looking to see if it could keep the Storyboard spirit alive.

With Storyboard’s sudden closure, there are bound to be planned and already written stories not yet published. Mashable quickly offered its Web space to host the stories. “While we’re sad to see Storyboard go, we’re happy to announce that Mashable will be working with Tumblr’s editors to find a home for as many of those planned stories as we can,” it wrote. “We invite anyone who was working on an assigned article or video for Storyboard to send it our way. If there’s a mutual interest, we’ll publish those pieces on Mashable.com or on our Tumblr, Mashable HQ.”

Mashable is already working with writers who were developing pieces for Storyboard, and that the first of those pieces should start appearing in the next few weeks.