From the ten-odd news sources I'd typically use to read over German daily news....thelocal.de used to be one of the ten. I'd probably gone to their site daily for six or seven years and considered a decent site for the top five stories of the day in Germany.
This week, I quit going to thelocal.de.
Since summer of last year, I had noticed more and more stories that had to do with immigration, Muslims in Germany, and asylum.....at least ten stories a week on average. Each story, like all the stories on cars, crime, technology development, the economy, banking, etc.....left a comments area. The comments by other readers....often were more interesting than the story told itself.
As time went by, I'd come to notice that such-and-such guy who was a regular comments guy....disappeared. He just didn't appear.
About a month ago, I noted that while I could read the stories.....thelocal.de management folks had ID'ed me and removed my access to comment on numerous topics.....mostly immigration and asylum. I could read, but I couldn't comment.
It was their method of quietening down the audience. They didn't want aggravated or hurt-feelings among the readers they had. Oddly, I'm guessing a number of folks are like myself.....they've quit thelocal.de and don't use the news service anymore. Less numbers....mean less advertising money that rolls in. If you lose half your readers....you have a problem.
My guess is that thelocal.de is on a trend. After a while....folks will just skip it and go onto real German newspapers or Focus, or Stern, or ARD.
Some guy within thelocal management team will cite less aggravated readers as a positive trend.....but then he can't figure out why fewer people read the local or why people just quit using the site. At least he'll be happy with the trend they started......and maybe one day will find no need to continue the operation of the news site.