Thursday, November 2, 2017

Updated: Joe Ricketts just shut down Gothamist and DNAinfo

Woah.

This message now greets visitors to both DNAinfo and Gothamist...



Here's that message from publisher Joe Ricetts:

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

Ricketts bought Gothamist back in March.

The Times reported that the reporters and editors in the combined newsrooms "celebrated victory in their vote to join a union" just last week.

In total, the closure impacts 115 employees, including reporters, editors, sales staff, among others, in New York as well as in other cities with DNA/-ist outposts. According to the Times: "They are getting three months of paid 'administrative leave' at full salary, plus four weeks of severance."

And reactions...












Updated 8 p.m.:
The following is a statement from the Writers Guild of America, East:

"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.”

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

EVGrieve, DNA, and Gothamists are my go-to sites. This sucks. Grieve, you are more important than ever now.

David said...

This is just tragic, Apparently Billionaires don't care for local news... I can not fathom the evil in this.
Tragic. I feel like quitting my job and rising up to take Gorthamist's place.

Giovanni said...

This sucks but was totally predictable. Right wing billionaires like Joe Rickets only seem to care about the media as
long as it can make them richer and protect their interests. DNAInfo and Gothamist were two of the best news sites in New York. EV Grieve becomes even more essential now.

David said...

Help Us, Obi Wan Kenobi, EVGRIEVE, You are our only hope now!!!!!!!

Pinch said...

Grieve, perhaps you can buy up both sites with the trillions you make in revenue through EVGrieve??

EV Grieve said...

I'm really only into bitcoin transfers now, Pinch...

Mark Hand The Catchman said...

Holy Shit... that was sudden was reading an article on DNA info the next was poof. That was shittyly unprofessional

Me.Bo.Re said...

Indeed ... this is the worst news today. You and Gothamist were my guilty pleasures. Please don't desert us!

Also, if anyone knows the DNAinfo / Gothamist writers, they can access some of their work through the Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine -- https://archive.org/search.php?query=gothamist.com

Hoping someone will tell them in case they don't already know (so they can put their latest work in a portfolio).

Man oh man ... oh man .......

olympiasepiriot said...

So, freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. Obviously, this guy's a grade a strikebreaking shit. But, I think the future of fee press is cooperatively owned press.

ed anger said...

Here's what you get for joining a union, see? /evilcackle

Donnie Moder said...

Gothamist was one of my go to sites, after EVgrieve. Sad to see it end abruptly. Wish it had been The Observer instead.

Gojira said...

Billionaire owner of the Chicago Cubs. Yeah, he's really hurting for money, the Trump-loving piece of $#!+.

Morgan Tsvangirai said...

This is really awful. I visit Gothamist all the time. Used to comment on the site back when that feature was first added like ten years ago. I only use the more curated and low tech comments section of this site now however.

Anonymous said...

Real estate developers did not like the truth

Goggla said...

This was a shock, but I guess really not a surprise considering the threats of 'consequences' that were put forth when the writers unionized. What a disgusting move. I've been a daily reader of Gothamist for as long as they've been around and there was a real sense of community on that site. I feel the ones in power are really trying to destroy journalism and control communication. Thanks to you, Grieve, for hanging in there. Time to hire 115 assistants!

Anonymous said...

This is awful. Yes, Gothamist was clickbaity sometimes, but they did a lot of important reporting on many critical local topics that NYT, NYDN, or the Post (lol at the Post...) don't delve into. Street safety, criminal justice... Their stories were important. I will miss their work very much and think it's a huge loss to all of us, and a bad sign for independent media. Right-wing billionaires are taking over local news - please look up stories on the Sinclair Group. John Oliver did an excellent segment on them a few weeks ago, for example. It's chilling.

shimmerstwo said...

It doesn't matter of the one is a billionaire thousandaire whatever
If the goal is to make money and have reasonable return on your work/input/investment and the union weasels it's way in and fucks it up
Well that's it
They voted themselves out a job
Not the brightest move

Anonymous said...

Now who's gonna steal content from this site?

Neighbor said...

Guys I agree this sucks and sympathize with everyone who got canned but it's also not reasonable to expect him to subsidize something that is losing money just because you like the content. I know I'll probably get blasted for saying that but it's entirely his decision as owner. If these are viable enterprises, and I hope they are, someone should show up to ressurect them. And before you blast me consider talking to your network about doing exactly that. Starting a website is not cheap but it's not a billion dollar endeavor. See our lovely friends behind EV Grieve.

shimmerstwo said...

5 stars
I agree 100%
Sorry but this whole idea that If you have money you should throw it around is really insane and I don't even know how or when or why it started
When in fact the people who bitch and moan haven't the FAINTEST IDEA ETC they are talking about
The 25 wealthiest Americans have given away over 300 BILLION yes BILLION dollars in The past 15 years

Pinch said...

😂 Ahead of the curve as always, Grieve.

Anonymous said...

I wish the Villager could get an infusion of $$$ to bring them out of 1992. They do good work but could do so much better with an editor or two, more reporters and a functioning website and someone to do their social media.

ed anger said...

@shimmerstwo when you work for one owner, you're always at their whim. If, for example, he hates unions, if you unionize he can shut you down at will and 100+ people lose their job tu of spit. Nothing to do with "profit."

shimmerstwo said...

Gothamist is not a charity or a non profit
Never was
The people who started it made millions
Why dhoukdnt the new owner
Regardless of who it is or how much money he has??

Morgan Tsvangirai said...

This is direct vindictiveness on the part of Ricketts to punish the employees of DNAInfo and Gothamist. Gothamist was purchased by him this year. If it was such a huge money losing operation, why would he buy it?

Not only that, but he closed the site immediately without announcing something ahead of time and redirecting every page on the site to the message so writers can't save their clippings when they apply for new jobs. Some of the articles are on archive.org thankfully. But he wanted to make sure to hurt his employees.

What does it matter that the 25 wealthiest americans have given away $300B over 15 years? In the first 7 MONTHS of this year, the richest 5 americans have increased their wealth by $67 BILLION. The top 0.1% of US households hold the same wealth as the bottom 90%. They give away a pittance (and get tax benefits from such 'gifts').

Morgan Tsvangirai said...

Oh yeah and

It's totally illegal to fire people for trying to unionize, but the one way to get around that is by shutting an entire company down, so that's what he did.

Anonymous said...

I knew this was bound to happen. The billionaire behind this, Joe Ricketts, who also happens to own the Chicago Cubs, saw this as a golden opportunity to bow out, and save money, especially after the announcement of the recent unionization, which he was adamantly opposed to seeing as he is a devout republican, a capitalist, and an unequivocal Trump supporter.

I am not supporting his choice or reasons whatsoever. He's a jerk. His choice to shut down is cutthroat (especially with the holidays looming) and clearly is a loss to many who follow and need local news in and from their communities. However, it is a business. And if there is little profit, he has every right to walk away. This morning, I read the Daily News, which states all of the employees, for both sites, in all of the cities affiliated with his sites, will continue to receive full pay and benefits until Feb.2, at which point they could apply for unemployment benefits if they are unable to secure work. At least, they will have some temporary comfort until their next transition.

I am a freelance journalist incidentally. Media has transformed and diminished in subtle ways such as this. If a news site isn't turning profit, they will begin to let go of staff. If things continue to go sour, they will pull the plug. This is why we need sites or blogs rather, such as EV Grieve and Jeremiah's Vanishing New York as destinations for sources of news and reports. I truly appreciate what you do for your neighborhood in the east village and other parts of Manhattan. Please, don't go away :)

ed anger said...

This had nothing to do with money. Pay attention: they voted last week to unionize, he then shut them down.

Cosmo said...

For those who keep parroting the line about the sites losing money each month, says who? That is just what Ricketts said, yet he is not disclosing any financial information. I find it hard to believe Gothamist wasn't making money with 15 million views a month. Why did he buy it in the first place if not to make a profit? Also, he only owned it for what, six months? That's not long enough to determine that killing the whole business is the only option. And removing the archive is a disgusting move that screws over all the reporters. He's made a statement saying the archive will be available at some time, which is utter BS. It's already gone.

This is purely about power and revenge. The employees had only voted to unionize, they hadn't even had negotiations or made any demands. Joe seems just fine paying out millions to his unionized baseball players. Nope, this stinks big time.

Just after he acquired Gothamist, all posts pertaining to him were wiped from the site. There was then a discussion about it in the comments section of an unrelated article and that mysteriously disappeared as well. Pure censorship and control.

This was a real fine move for a guy who believes he has "left the world a better place."

Anonymous said...

This sucks :(

Anonymous said...

This is direct vindictiveness on the part of Ricketts to punish the employees of DNAInfo and Gothamist. Gothamist was purchased by him this year. If it was such a huge money losing operation, why would he buy it?

Not only that, but he closed the site immediately without announcing something ahead of time and redirecting every page on the site to the message so writers can't save their clippings when they apply for new jobs. Some of the articles are on archive.org thankfully. But he wanted to make sure to hurt his employees.


Exactly. Ricketts is also a big Trump supporter and Gothamist has been critical of Trump and his administration's policies. There is the possibility that he bought them to eventually shut them down, especially when he wasn't able to control the editorial content.

Gothamist and DNA Info were valuable and necessary sites. I hope someone can fill that void.

James said...

Re: The archives - all of the articles will have been indexed by archive.org over the years and should be available there.

Anonymous said...

And Gothamist was advertising its usual ad for ad sales people just last week.

Anonymous said...

This is just another step in the erasure of journalism and truth. When all the media outlets are owned by the same few rich people, they will have the choice of eliminating them or controlling all content. This happens in dictatorships and is happening here.

Giovanni said...

@ Cosmo, Gojira, Morgan Tsvangirai, Pinch, Goggle, Donnie Moder and other EV Grieve regulars:

Have you ever seen so many low-life, ball-sucking, ass kissing billionaire syncophans come out of the woodwork on this site to immediately support the rights of the “owners” (a leftover and very out of date term from the slave trade), worshipping the one-percenters over workers and the general public? It’s almost as if big fat ball-scratching Joe Ricketts has a PR team going out to support his evil agenda. I’m sure the reason why this is happening is that EV Grieve has the highest Google rank for local articles, so anything negative about a jerk like Joe Ricketts immediately goes right to the first search page on Google, and he can't stand it. (Just wait an hour and search for “a jerk like Joe Ricketts,” it will be at the top of your Google search.) Too bad a jerk like Joe Ricketts can’t buy Google, and he can’t fire EV Grieve either.

As someone else pointed out, Joe “The Jerk” Rickets owns the Chicago Cubs, whose players have one of the most powerful unions on the planet, but Poor Joe couldn't tolerate a few underpaid unionized writers? Bullshit. He hates unions, and this is another union hating Trump supporter putting his foot on the media’s neck, just like Peter Theil did to help shut down Gawker. So this is for you Fat Joe: A Pox on the Chicago Cubs, I hereby reinstate The Curse, the Cubs will never win a World Series again while Joe Fatso is the “owner.” (Sorry Cubs, but I’m a Mets fan forever).

Good luck to everyone at Gothamist and DNA Info, you will end up in better places. I predict Jerkface Fat Joe will attempt to reopen them both under a Cayman Island shell company with all the writers located in India, but no one will want to read that dreck. And remember Trump supporters, MAGA now stands for Many Are Getting Arrested.

Anonymous said...

I see the Russian bots have even managed to reach EV Grieve, unreal. Don't fall for the bait and get trolled by these Russki creeps.

Joe Rickett is clearly a Trumpanzee, and this is an transparently dirty move to shut down independent media, critical of the Trump administration in violation of the 1st amendment.

Anonymous said...

This was definitely NOT about money; whatever "losses" those sites incurred would be pocket change to Ricketts. It's about POWER, CONTROL, and PUNISHING those who one can't control.

I don't expect any better from a Trump-head like Ricketts, esp. since he lives in his billionaire "I'm always right!" bubble.

BUT I resent the power of someone like him to buy up a useful site and then just squish it out of existence for no reason other than that someone disturbed his petty ideas about workers and what they should be allowed to do.

Viewing one's employees as, basically, enemies - and then stomping on them when they aren't clones of the owner - it's stupidly peevish & petty (in much the same way Trump himself is, so no surprise his rich supporter would be that way, too). It's a very medieval POV: Ricketts thinks he's the king, and the employees are his serfs.

Cosmo said...

@Giovanni - I agree 100%. In all the other reports of this I've read today, there is a disturbingly large commenting population who all say, "He's the owner, he can do what he wants." No mention of laws or ethics, of course. We are beyond those petty things now.

Anonymous said...

Gothamist is back up (at least temporarily):

http://gothamist.com/blog.php

Looks like it was live for about 15 minutes, long enough for about ten comments, before commenting was shut down. Any writers out there can get to the archive if they haven't done the waybackmachine thing already.

Giovanni said...

Gothamist/DNA Info update: After a major backlash from the sudden shutdown, the writers were able to get both the Gothamist and DNA Info archives back online, along with the Disqus comments section, which were only active for a hour before all conversations were deactivated. Obviously, Cheap Fat Joe Ricketts is aftrad of the shit storm of criticism currently coming his way. Welcome to the media business, Fat Joe, now get the hell out, we’ve got it from here on.

In the meantime, someone set up a domain pointing to a Disquis site called Gothamissed.com which can be used to spew out the usual snarky comments which helped make Gothamist what it was. Perhaps the future of online local journalism is the past, with users submitting news and views that the billionaires are too afraid (or cheap) to support.

Mayor DeBlasio just called Joe Rickets a coward for killing off these two websites, a message that even a jerk like Joe Ricketts should consider before ever getting involved in publishing again.

Before there was the Internet, they just burned the books of people they dodnt agree with. Now we can publish out own material, and they can't burn or destroy that. At least not yet.

Anonymous said...

You are obviously not wanting to believe that the Union played THE pivotal role in this decision. If the owner is a billionaire, a millionaire or a regular dude is kinda moot. If he or she votes Republican or Democrat who really gives a shit. Organized labor is expensive and kills jobs. Remember Twinkies?

Anonymous said...

The sites are back online with articles available (no new ones of course). The previous owner Jake Dobkin tweeted they are looking for an archiving grave for all 700K articles. Small win for the writers I guess.

Anonymous said...

When I lived on the upper east side, there was a local bakery where the workers unionized. To be totally fair, it sounded as if there were some real issues and possible abuses going on. What happened? Within three months, they were out of business.

A "progressive" minded guy ended up taking over the space, and in an effort to show how "progressive" he is, he makes a bunch of statements to local media how he's happy to hire every single one of the union workers that shut down the previous long-standing business. Sounds like the beginning to one of those campy 80s movies where the rag-tag bunch of misfits meet with roaring success. Except, the 80s are long over and this isn't a movie.

The Union, pretty quickly upon accepting the terms of their employment, change their minds and go on strike pretty much immediately. Given how it went last time, you'd think they might figure that sort of thing can back fire, but no. Within a few months, their progressive savior goes bust and they've now lost two jobs. If only the story ended there. The now twice fired workers then started picketing their savior's OTHER location, which led to it shutting down.

So, I see a LOT of reason for refusing to do business with a union. So far, the only reason I see bandied around in favor of doing business with a union is "you have the money, so uh, pay up." Hardly compelling.

Gojira said...

@Giovanni - oh, you bet. I knew the Trumptards had started sniffing around the first time I saw someone actually use the term "snowflake" as a condescending insult in a reply thread; I called him out on it and Grieve removed the comment, but that was when I knew we'd been infiltrated and infected. I see it more and more on here, and I bet it will only get worse.

Oh and BTW - fellow Mets fan, I am. Queens girl = Mets fan = the way it's always been = the way it always will be.

Anonymous said...

I am confused. Is Gothamnist back on??

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought:

Maybe if Village Voice, Gothamist, and DNAInfo weren't sold to a rightwing, conservative, pro-Trump, anti-union guy they wouldn't have been shut down.

The people who cashed out by selling out to Ricketts are partly responsible for the shutdowns. If they had told him no thanks or fuck off, they'd still be around.

That said, I feel bad for everyone who worked at all three media companies. Hopefully x amount or all of them could combine their talents to create a new site which would be THE go to news site for all things in and around NYC and never sell it to someone like Ricketts.