Lenny Letter, the feminist content site founded by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, is shutting down.
Subscribers were notified on Friday that the site, which began as a newsletter in 2015, will close that day, confirming reports that emerged on Thursday from Digiday and the New York Post. Staff and contributors were informed days before. Dunham, Konner and reps for Lenny Letter and Conde Nast have not yet responded to a request for comment.
“When we began plotting Lenny almost four years ago, we were casually referring to this venture as our cool older sister — someone who’s been there, done that, someone who’s learned from her successes and her failures,” read the final send to subscribers on Friday.
“But this newsletter has grown way beyond that dream. It was our dearest hope that we could create a space where new voices were safe to speak, and speak loudly. But we didn’t create that. You did. What you have created — a fiercely passionate community of dedicated readers, writers, and artists — is more than we ever could have asked for.”
Lenny Letter launched on the heels of the producing duo’s hit HBO series Girls and discussed topics such as entertainment, fashion and politics through a contemporary feminist lens.
The twice-weekly offering was one of the first to experiment with email-only content, which has included headline-making features such as Jennifer Lawrence’s pay disparity essay, Alicia Keys’ decision to wean off makeup and Michelle Obama’s plea to prioritise global education, as well as conversations with Hillary Clinton and Janet Mock.
The initiative previously partnered with Hearst for ad sales, and then Conde Nast. It branched out into a content site with podcasts and videos, as well as a book imprint under Random House. At a high point, the newsletter boasted a base of 500,000 subscribers.
However, wider interest has since dwindled; the site was also clouded by controversy last year when writer Zinzi Clemmons publicised her decision to cease working with Dunham, accusing her of racism.
“While there’s no one reason for our closure, this change allows for growth and a shift in perspectives — ours and yours,” continues the last letter. “Please, continue to push forward the voices that need a platform, the untold stories that deserve to be heard, the diversity that the publishing industry claims to value but has never mastered.”
The farewell address also encouraged readers to be vigilant in their demands for quality content and honourable politicians.
“As powerful as storytelling is, it’s only half the work. What comes after is equally important. Real change-making takes work, and part of that work will come this November,” Friday’s message read. “There is nothing more critical to counteracting the daily devastation of the current regime than the midterm elections. Knock on strangers’ doors, drive people who can’t drive themselves to the polls, host a postcard-writing party to encourage unlikely voters, canvas at Taylor Swift concerts. Do whatever it takes.”
The news that Lenny Letter will close comes only days after Dunham and Konner’s limited series Camping debuted on HBO. The Jennifer Garner vehicle is their final collaboration for the time being, as they announced their indefinite split as producers earlier this year.
After working together on six seasons of Girls, the documentary Suited and the short film Tokyo Project, Dunham and Konner are now opting to pursue projects independently.
“We feel super lucky to have had eight amazing years together. We just want to do different things,” Konner said while promoting Camping over the summer. “There’s no drama to be found there. It’s just about the creative process.”
The report caps a tough week already for Dunham, who just slammed critics for second-guessing her decision not to fully promote Camping because of her ongoing battle with endometriosis. The disorder causes the tissue that typically serves as the uterine lining to grow outside of the uterus, which she has since had removed, along with her cervix and left ovary.
Dunham has been open about her health struggles for years; it also spurred the cancellation of last year’s six-city Lenny Letter tour.