[UPDATED] R.I.P??? Gothamist & SFist—Why 115 Journalists Are PISSED

UPDATE 2: It would seem the SFist site is back online, we assume to be an online archive of the sites past stories?


UPDATE 1: While researching more into this story, we found an excerpt from CNN Money we needed to add to this piece:

“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 organization said in a statement. “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.”

In the email to employees, which was provided to CNNMoney by a staffer, Ricketts said they will be placed on paid administrative leave beginning Friday and ending on February 2. They’ll receive their full salary and benefits until then, unless they start working full-time elsewhere.

It’s a sad day for local journalism.

As we were scrolling through our competitors list to see what has been talked about today, we noticed this letter from the CEO of Gothamist and DNAinfo, Joe Ricketts, plastered on all the ‘ist sites from Gothamist to SFist and beyond. A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union. And today, they lost their jobs, as the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down. (In fact, Ricketts published a blog post in September entitled: “Why I’m Against Unions At Businesses I Create.” It explained the benefits he found in the free enterprise system.)

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.


— Joe Ricketts, Chief Executive Officer

The news took the newsroom by surprise. David Colon, a reporter for Gothamist, said that a lawyer for DNAinfo was present when the staff was told, but that he “didn’t really” take questions.

“Very classy,” Mr. Colon said. “I yelled a lot and somebody told me to stop. Now we’re all trying to figure out what to do.”

// So if any SFist writers would like to contribute for Bob Cut, we pay.

[UPDATED] R.I.P??? Gothamist & SFist—Why 115 Journalists Are PISSED
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