Every single article from local news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist–including all of their subsidiary sites–has been taken down and replaced with a message from their owner, Joe Ricketts, informing the public that both companies are shutting down. This comes just days after the editorial team successfully joined the Writers Guild of America, East.
Ricketts, it seems, is no fan of unions and decided to shut down the venerated hyper-local news publications. Ricketts writes in his farewell note:
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.
It seems employees were caught off guard with this news–many have tweeted their sadness and dismay. To add insult to injury, Ricketts seems to have scrubbed all the sites’ archives. It’s unclear if this scrubbing is temporary, but it must feel like an insult to the editorial team that spent years writing thousands of well-reported articles.
I’ll update this post if I learn more.
Update: The Writers Guild Of America, East has provided Fast Company with this statement:
We are deeply concerned by Joe Ricketts’ decision to shut down DNAinfo New York and Gothamist, along with all their respective local outlets. The New York offices of DNAinfo and Gothamist recently voted to unionize and it is no secret that threats were made to these workers during the organizing drive. The Guild will be looking at all of our potential areas of recourse and we will aggressively pursue our new members rights. We will meet with management in the near future to address all of these issues. We are currently working with the staff at DNAinfo and Gothamist to support them in this difficult time.
Update #2: DNAinfo now says it will be restoring and archiving all of the DNAinfo and Gothamist archives in the coming weeks
— Andy Newman (@andylocal) November 2, 2017
In the mean time, a few technically savvy people have figured out ways for the staff to archive the posts on their own. Here’s one such tool created by two Twitter users.