Gothamist and DNAinfo Shutdown

Gothamist and DNAinfo Shutdown

Updated Nov 03, 2017 at 02:05PM EDT by Matt.

Added Nov 03, 2017 at 01:11PM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

Gothamist and DNAinfo Shutdown refers to the events leading up to and fallout from the sudden closure of the websites Gothamist, DNAinfo and their subsidiaries. The sites' owner Joe Ricketts stated that he closed the website for financial reasons, while others speculated that Ricketts was retaliating against a vote to unionize the outlets one week prior.

Background

On October 27th, 2017, the New York-based local news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist successfully voted in favor of joining the Writers Guild of America East, a labor union representing writers throughout America.[1] While the newsroom celebrated the victory, Joe Ricketts, the site's owner publicly stated his opposition to unionization in a blogpost[2] entitled "Why I'm Against Unions At Business I Create" on September 12th, 2017.

One week after the vote, Ricketts announced via statement on DNAinfo that he would be shutting down DNAinfo and Gothamist and its subsidiaries, which he purchased in spring 2017. In a latter addressed to DNAinfo and Gothamist readers, he wrote, "But DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure. And while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn't been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded."


na nfo gothamist November 2,2017 Dear DNAinfo and Gothamist Readers: Today, I've made the difficult decision to discontinue publishing DNAinfo and Gothamist. Reaching this decision wasn't easy, and it wasn't one I made lightly I started DNAinfo in 2009 at a time when few people were investing in media companies. But I believed an opportunity existed to build a successful company that would report unbiased neighborhood news and information. These were stories that weren't getting told, and because I believe people care deeply about the things that happen where they live and work, I thought we could build a large and loyal audience that advertisers would want to reach A lot of what I believed would happen did, but not all of it. Today, DNAinfo and Gothamist deliver news and information each day to over half a million people's email inboxes; we have over 2 million fans across our social channels; and each month, we have over 15 million visits to our sites by over 9 million people. But more important than large numbers of visits and fans, we ve reported tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted, and inspired millions of people. And in the process, I believe we've left the world a better place But DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure. And while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn't been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded. I want to thank our readers for their support and loyalty through the years. And I want to thank our employees for their tireless effort and dedication I'm hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling for I believe telling those stories remains essential Sincerely, Joe Ricketts Chief Executive Officer

Developments

Among the first to report on the closure, The New York Times[3] stated that Ricketts' decision left 115 people without work throughout the company. Those employees would be receiving three months paid "administrative leave" and four weeks of severance pay. The paper also reported that "the news took the newsroom by surprise." While paper repeated the issues that Ricketts pointed out in his statement, the Times also reported that the shuttering may have been the "final straw" for management on the union debate. One Gothamist reporter, Emma Whitford described it as "textbook union-busting tactics."

Online Reaction

Online, people shared their thoughts about the closure, primarily the surprise announcement and the sudden removal of both sites' backlog of content. Bloomberg reporter Kim Bhasin tweeted (shown below, left),[5] "The DNAinfo website just shows a message. The Gothamist website appears to be totally down. Are the archived stories gone forever?" Similarly, Noah Kulwin, the technology editor for Vice News, tweeted, "dnainfo/gothamist reporters now doubly fucked because their websites -- with all their clips -- are gone. imagine applying for a new job now." The (shown below, center) received more than 650 retweets and 1,400 likes before being deleted.

Others online, lashed out at Ricketts for his decision. Slate political correspondent Jamelle Bouie tweeted,[6] "joe ricketts is worth more than 2 billion but heaven forbid his employees have a smidgen of economic security." The tweet (shown below, right) received more than 1,900 retweets and 6,600 likes in less than 24 hours.


The DNAinfo website just shows a message. he Gothamist website appears to be totally down. Are the archived stories gone forever? ← ⓘ gotham.st.https://www.dnainfo.com 503 Service Unfo hl gothamist No server is available to han7 nd Gothamist Readers: :the difficult decision to discontinue publishir hing this decision wasn't easy, and it wasn't or dnainfo/gothamist reporters now doubly f----- because their websites- with all their clips -are gone. imagine applying for a new job now joe ricketts is worth more than 2 billion but heaven forbid his employees have a smidgen of economic security

On November 2nd, Twitter[10] published a Moments page regarding the shutdown and the reaction to it.

That day, the news of the shutdown inspired three threads on the subreddits /r/worldnews,[7] /r/nyc[8] and /r/news/.[9] Within 24 hours, the combined total of points between the threads reached more than 4,000.

Gothamist Archive Retrieval Tool

The following day, a pair of coders who go by @turtlekiosk and @xn9q8h on Twitter[11][12] released a tool for retrieving the lost Gothamist archive using Google's AMP program caches. The tool allows journalists to put their Gothamist-credited name into a field and scrape the site for clips of their writing. That night, @turtlekiosk tweeted,[13] "🚨🚨🚨🚨 @xn9q8h and i wrote a tool that retrieves Gothamist articles from AMP caches! 🚨🚨🚨🚨 http://kpetrovi.ch/e-clips/. The tweet (shown below) received more than 500 retweets and 770 likes in less than 24 hours.


@xn9q8h and i wrote a tool that retrieves Gothamist articles from AMP caches! kpetrovi.ch/e-clips/ Gothamist Archive Retrieval Tool If you wrote for Gothamist and would like to retrieve your clips, we've written a tool that will retrieve them from the Google AMP caches. Enter your name below (as credited on the Gothamist author pages) and our server will start retrieving them from the caches and post a link below. There is a rate limit on Google's AMP API so please be patient for your folder to show up. Caches expire so this may only work for a day at best. Hopefully this won't be too buggy, good luck and thank you for your reporting! Made by @xn9q8h and @turtlekiosk Your Name (As Credited on Gothamist) Your Name Scrape Last Modified Size Key Christopher Robbins/ David Colon/ Rebecca Fishbein/

Media Coverage

Several news outlets covered the Gothamist shutdown and the public reaction, including The New York Times,[3] Chicago Tribune,[14] New York Observer,[15] USA Today,[16] The Washington Post[17] and more.

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