It’s been a little bit over a week since Gothamist and DNAinfo were shut down by their unscrupulous owner, Joe Ricketts. Founders Jen Chung and Jake Dobkin have been conspicuously quiet about the abrupt closure, other than issuing a thank you email to their readers, which was widely criticized by fans of the sites. They were criticized earlier this year for deleting negative coverage of Ricketts from the site.
Hope the check Ricketts cut you was worth it. Millions of people supported Gothamist and the related sites and relied on them. You sold your readership out to a demagogue billionaire who shut the whole thing down, and now you’re thanking him for it.
Really disappointing, Jen.
— Stephen Bruckert (@str1cken) November 3, 2017
Julia Wick, the former editor-in-chief of LAist, spoke with On the Media and All Things Considered last week. She was much less kind, attacking her Trump-supporting former boss for his pettiness. Having been caught completely off-guard by the shutdown, she told All Things Considered that it was definitely “a political decision, not a financial decision.”
Former Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan also believes the shutdown was political:
“DNAinfo was never profitable, but Mr. Ricketts was happy to invest in it for eight years, praising its work all along. Gothamist, on the other hand, was profitable, and a fairly recent addition to the company.” Last month, meanwhile, Ricketts wrote that “unions exert efforts that tend to destroy the Free Enterprise system” and said he was “against” unions operating at companies he started. On Thursday all DNAINfoand Gothamist webpages redirected to a letter from Ricketts containing the shutdown announcement. (The sites eventually returned, but it’s unclear what will become of the archives going forward.) More than 100 people were immediately out of a job after Ricketts chose to impose the corporate death penalty rather than be compelled to go through a collective bargaining process with one of his offices. It is worth mentioning here that Ricketts shuttered DNAInfo and Gothamist even before receiving any demands from the recently formed union.
Here’s Julia Wick on On the Media and All Things Considered, discussing the closure of the websites and the larger implications for local media:
On The Media
All Things Considered