Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Gothamist turns to Kickstarter to speed up its return

Back in February news broke that Gothamist was returning, thanks to WNYC and its parent company New York Public Radio — along with two anonymous donors — who had acquired the local news site's assets.

And yesterday (ICYMI), the Gothamist co-founders launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 by May 4.

Per Kickstarter:

And now it’s our priority to build out the site and bring back the Gothamist you love. We aim to get Gothamist back to full strength and make it sustainable for years to come.

With your support, Gothamist will have the resources to expand coverage of issues that are vital to the social fabric of New York City: transportation, affordable housing, gentrification, demonic landlords, immigration, and the living wage struggle. We’re proud of our past work on these topics—as well as our vibrant culture and food reporting—and we’re committed to deepening and diversifying our coverage of New York City.

Gothamist is now a part of member supported New York Public Radio, which is a registered 501c3. Your pledge is tax deductible, minus the value and/services of your selected reward and credit card processing and Kickstarter fees. At the end of the campaign, when we reach our goal and credit card transactions are completed, we will send out tax acknowledgement letters.

It’s simple: all funds raised with this Kickstarter will go to funding Gothamist. The first $100,000 will help revive the website and bring back our popular newsletter. It will also enable us to preserve the Gothamist and DNAinfo archives. But this is just the beginning. The more we raise, the better we can serve you.

As of this morning, they'd already raised more than $73,000.

And a few more details via the Observer:

It might seem strange for a site to crowdfund after being acquired by another company. But the Kickstarter funds, along with the funding for the acquisition, will help Gothamist relaunch faster than it would have otherwise.

“We were fortunate to be able to quickly shore up the support we needed to make the acquisition by connecting with funders who share our commitment to local journalism,” Jennifer Houlihan Roussel, vice president of communications for New York Public Radio, told Observer. “The Kickstarter will enable us to launch as quickly and as robustly as possible.”

Dobkin will handle strategy and revenue at the new Gothamist, while co-founder Jen Chung will be in charge of editorial matters.

After this initial funding push, Gothamist will transition to WNYC’s fundraising model, which relies on membership, philanthropy and sponsorship. Dobkin said he hopes to garner 10,000 to 20,000 subscribers for the site and also woo new advertisers.

Publisher Joe Ricketts abruptly shut down Gothamist and DNAinfo last Nov. 2 after the newsrooms of both sites voted to join the Writers Guild of America East. DNAinfo, however, will not be returning. Its archives will remain online.

In unrelated news about local sites, prospects remain at their dimmest for a return of EV Heave, though the publisher will listen to offers in the two-figure range, we're told.

For further reading:
Gothamist's Kickstarter Raises More Questions Than It Answers (Splinter)


Giovanni said...

So how is it that EV Grieve is able to do almost everything that Gothamist ever has done, without any advertising, and for a fraction of the cost, yet Gothamist needs $100k to bring the website “back” online? Don't look, but the website is still online, always has been, every single article and comment is still there. And why do they need a kickstarter when they have already been acquired by NYPR?

Chung and Dobkin abvioulsy got a boatload of money when billionaire Ricketts bought their site, so now they obviously don't want to put that money back in to what must be a very unprofitably run operation due to either overstaffing or mismanagement. They had good traffic and just rehired their old head of ad sales, so they will have that revenue stream back in addition to the funding from NYPR and the money from the Kickstarter. Either someone has a bad coke habit or they are just in this for the money.

Or maybe they need the funding to do those “Best Bagel in New York” lists (which are always wrong) and to send reporters to those psychedelic drug music fests on Governors Island. Gothamist is a fun site, but beyond the excessive restaurant reviews they didn't do anywhere near the local reporting in every neighborhood that DNA Info did, or cover the EV as well as EV Grieve always does. What Gothamist did do is cleverly repurpose a lot of other sites reporting (which is the NY Mag and Huffington Post model) so why they now need three major funding sources is a mystery. Meanwhile EV Grieve chugs along, and for that we are grateful.

Anonymous said...

Remind ourselves how much these two were paid in the initial buyout . . .

Anonymous said...

Agree with Giovanni and was about to comment on what he said but was hesitant for it may not go through.

I once commented on Gothamshit, during its infancy, that Gothamshit was basing their model on Gawker and Huffpo, whereby Dobkin sent me an email (the email that I used to have make that comment, not visible to the site, but obviously visble to them) to go eff myself and attached the IP location of where I had commented from. Creepy ain't it.

Also, just copying and pasting what Ortega, the former Voice Editor-in-Chief said about Dobkin and Gothamshit, which are very precise, imho (emphasis mine):

See, there’s this guy named Jake Dobkin. I’ve met this guy. He’s easily one of the two or three most humorless human beings I’ve ever met in my life. And that didn’t surprise me, because it helped explain why his website, Gothamist, is the way that it is.

Gothamist’s purpose is very simple: rewrite everything significant in the morning’s New York Times in short, passionless, humorless bite-sized chunks.

I don’t get it. But for some reason, some people do, and they prefer to get their New York Times chewed up in the form of room-temperature gruel rather than go directly to the source and read the, you know, New York Times itself.

But whatever. The guy had a vision. He went for it. He created a site that a few people read and that occasionally sports an advertisement, which allows him to employ a few people and keep the thing going. More power to him.

Only, Dobkin (being Dobkin) not only has no sense of humor, he doesn’t seem to realize that all he’s doing is rewriting the work of other people without even putting in a joke or two. He seems to believe that what he’s doing is journalism.

As a result, on occasion Dobkin has been known to spout off about how the Times — the paper, mind you, that he makes a living rewriting — doesn’t get readers the way he does...

And now, should Gothamshit rise again, they will be stealing content from this site and others again.


Gothamist was my go-to website for learning who shit on the 6 train and not much else.

JQ LLC said...

Gothamist suppresses comments like crazy. I made some comments supporting Bernie and trashing Hillary about what a fraud she is and I got banned from the site.

That site had the same commenters on it all the time, I was wondering if they were actually staffers or the editors themselves.

I didn't like the way they went out, it seemed that Ricketts was doing Trump a solid by getting rid of an outlet that goofed on him and it was weeks after they unionized, but it turned out Gothamist was a failed venture. Gothamshit (eh eh, nice) only contributions to local journalism was propping the nauseating food photo filing zeitgeist which I think is partly responsible for the gradual death of diners and other long time restaurants, as well as promoting anemic cultural events. Oh and it was the only website that still finds saturday night live still relevant.

They were useless then and judging by their desperate soliciting for cash which unfortunately they have been able to achieve pretty quick, more useless and insignificant now. If they need this cash infusion so bad I surmise that one of their donors backed out or maybe both of them did.

Giovanni said...

@JQ LLC. I agree that many of the commenters on Gothamist were a bit too “professional” I their constant postings and competition for the most likes. Gawker was the same, as is AVClub now, and the comments all seem designed to generate more page views and to position these sites as being edgy and cool. It’s also true that if you posted anything against what they were saying that comments were regularly flagged or users banned. Whether that was done by other commenters on by the site admins is unclear, but the agenda was crystal clear: either you are in the club or you are not. I think they will have a harder time now generating traffic since much of their credibility was shot when they sold out to Ricketts, which was a disaster.

It’s seems like all these guys who built succesful news blogs over the past 10-15 years, like Gawker, AVClub and Gothamist, were in it for the money but somehow ended up getting crushed, especially Gawker, which it richly deserved. Some sites have just made technical mistakes: AVClub moved over to the old Gawker platform and it is just awful to navigate and comment on now, whch is why they seem to have lost many of their commenters.

Gawker was one of my favorite sites in the beginning, but it was such a lurid and pointless little shitshow at the end, They became creepy celebrity stalkers and generators of manufactured controversy by outing gay businessmen that no one had ever heard of, Why did they have to post a sex tape of Hulk Hogan? For clicks and nothing else. That mistake cost them everything It’s funny how little sympathy Gawker got when it went up in flames, but there still is a need for local news sites like Gothamist if they can just clean up their act.

It will be interesting to see what Gothamist does now, but I see a lot of clickbait in its future, and nauseating foodie articles with too many photos, when what is really needed is what the Village Voice used to be, a hard hitting investigative news outlet with lots of relevant arts and cultural content. Let’s hope NYPR and the likes of Brian Lehrer have a positive impact on whatever is to come.

Abfus said...

I'd like to respectfully disagree on some of the Gothamist criticism. I do agree that there were way too many poorly executed foodie listicles, that a large portion of their content was repurposing content from other NYC-based publications and that DNA Info was far better for hyperlocal reporting, but:

1) Aggregating news from across NYC isn't inherently useless; I thought there was some value in visiting Gothamist and getting a sense of what was being covered in the Post and the Daily News and some other publications I don't read as closely.

2) On the occasions that Gothamist DID put their reporting muscle behind an issue, the result was usually very good. There aren't many publications that are doing investigative reporting into local issues outside City Hall, so when Gothamist did wade into that territory, however rare it might have been, I welcomed it.

3) They often went all in on covering NYC history, which I always found fascinating. For example, their series that revisited the Crown Heights riots ( was terrific. I encourage all of you to read...

Giovanni said...

Here are just a few actual headlines that ran on Gothamist last year. In spite of publishing the occasional hard-hitting investigative article, this is the kind of “hard hitting journalism” that they actually specialize in, and that they now want both your donations and funds from public radio to support:

Lorde If You Love The Subway So Much Why Don't You Give It All The Profits From Your New Album?

Man Urinates On Woman's Face On The J Train

12-Year-Old Girl Allegedly Dumps Boiling Water On Sleeping Friend As Part Of 'Hot Water Challenge'

Trump Drew The Manhattan Skyline And Here's What THAT Looks Like

Box Of Junior Mints Should Have More Junior Mints, Lawsuit Alleges

Video: Lime-A-Rita Drinker Shouting Racial Slurs Gets Tossed Off L Train

Long Island Man Arrested For Sex With Multiple Horses

Note Gothamist’s ongoing fixation with weird news from the subway and other sex and violence laced clickbait headlines. I can't wait to see how they waste all that money.

editrrix said...

As a long-time reader of Gothamist, I feel I have to defend the site's content and its writers; after all, if you visited it several times in a day, it was constantly updated and there was always something on there that appealed to everyone. As a writer, I thought of the site as editorial candy, though I did see some of the staff grow into solid investigative journalists — for instance, Nathan's coverage of housing is a great example that comes to mind. There were other talented writers, too, esp. in long-form. Some of the interviews were pretty good. It's not that Gothamist was so much better than other sites, it's that they covered so much of what was/is interesting about NYC in one place, more or less. Sure, I love hyperlocal as much as the next person, hence why I love the Grieve, Jeremiah Moss, et al, but those sites would never grandstand the way that Gothamist did (nor should they). From a writer's point of view, Gothamist was always a closed club, hard to break into, and their commenters seemed vicious, but that seemed the point. I cry fowl on this financial pre-need. Instead, why not appeal to people like Dominique Ansel for a cash donation and others for whom you lavished praise in post after post of unneeded attention? I was hoping that WNYC would be providing some editorial and financial dicipline. Let's see what the NEW Gothamist becomes/is before pandering for cash.