In 2005 a 29-year-old media studies graduate called Jonah Peretti helped to found an online news and comment website called the Huffington Post. A year later he started an experimental side project called BuzzFeed.
The two sites would help create an online media boom, as investors rushed to buy stakes in the belief such outlets were more nimble and more in tune with the desires of readers who grew up on the internet rather than with traditional newspapers and broadcasters.
On Wednesday, HuffPost’s parent company, Verizon Media Group, and BuzzFeed both announced plans to lay off hundreds of staff. The news signalled a collision between the dream of an online media boom and the accountants’ harsher reality: questions over the long-term profitability of digital media companies, and, as a result, concerns over the future of online journalism itself.