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1516671cookie-checkGothamist, DNAInfo Shut Down By Founder After Journalists Join Union 2017

Gothamist, DNAInfo Shut Down By Founder After Journalists Join Union 2017

TD Ameritrade owner and founder of Gothamist and DNAInfo, Joe Ricketts, recently shut down both DNAInfo and Gothamist – local news organizations that reportedly reached 9 million people each month and garnered more than 15 million visits – after the journalists joined a union.

Fortune is reporting that 115 journalists have been put out of work and that local news networks for New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have been shutdown in result of DNAInfo and Gothamist closing up shop.

All of the articles across the networks have also been made inaccessible, preventing millions of people from being able to look up, cross-reference, or research stories published across the network of sites since 2009. All of the links on the sites now redirect to a statement from founder and CEO, Joe Ricketts, who wrote in an article published on November 2nd, 2017

“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.”

“[…] 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.”

According to the New York Times, this comes literally just days after journalists at both organizations joined a union, even against Ricketts vehement wishes that they not join a union.

In fact, the workers joined the union as Ricketts actively fought against this maneuver. He even wrote a note saying…

“As long as it’s my money that’s paying for everything, I intend to be the one making the decisions about the direction of the business.”

On October 27th, 2017 the journalists at DNAInfo and and Gothamist joined the union. On November 2nd, 2017 Ricketts shut down both networks and blocked journalists from having any access to their past work.

It’s rather bizarre because both organizations were still producing content just hours before they were shut down, including reports on rising racial tensions in New York against Jews.

Others like Max Rivlin Nadler took the opportunity to repost some of Gothamist’s articles in image format on Twitter as a means of preserving the site’s content.

According to DNAInfo reporter Katie Honan, she told the New York Times that joining the union wasn’t about trying to “bankrupt” Ricketts but was about securing the future of journalism for those who wanted more out of it as a career than just a post-college hobby…

“No one’s trying to bankrupt anybody,” she said. “We just want to have an ability to negotiate things, and not necessarily money. If this is the future of journalism, it should be a career for people, not a postcollege hobby.”

With the abrupt and sudden shut down of the websites, it appears Ricketts didn’t think that the careers of journalists were worth anything more than a hobbyist pastime.

(Thanks for the news tip Bitterbear)

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