Professional Development

DCist shuts down as owner takes network dark

The local news website's content wasn't accessible after the closure was announced.

What do the locals do around here?

(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

DCist was among a group of local news sites shut down on Thursday afternoon by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts.

All sites in the combined DNAInfo/Gothamist network redirected to a letter from Ricketts announcing the closure, leaving the news and features that the sites offered inaccessible. This leaves writers unable to access their clips.

Ricketts initially started DNAInfo in 2009, and the company acquired the Gothamist network in March 2017. In the letter, Ricketts cites struggles making the business work.

“But DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure,” he wrote. “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.”

As the New York Times reports, the abrupt shutdown came a week after the staff of the network’s two New York–based sties voted to unionize, which played a role in the decision.

“The decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful,” a spokesman told the NYT.

Staffers of DCist, along with those in Chicago, San Francisco and L.A., were not in the union. The Times reports all 115 staff members of the network are receiving three months of paid “administrative leave” at full salaries, plus four weeks of severance.

It means the loss of a reliable, city-centered outlet covering news and culture. DCist had published a story earlier in the day that offered a guide to local news outlets in the District. For readers seeking other outlets following the shutdown, it was no longer available.

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