To the shock of readers and bloggers alike, today’s LAist page was replaced by an announcement that they are ceasing to publish immediately. This holds true for all of the Gothamist pages — Bostonist, SFist, Shanghaiist, et al. They were apparently unable to turn enough of a profit:
“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”
UPDATE 4:30 PST: Everyone is calling bullshit. According to The New York Times, the blog was shut down today at 5pm EST with little or no advance notice to employees. The staff of DNAinfo and Gothamist, which billionaire Joe Rickett purchased last Spring, voted last week to join the Writers Guild of America East. “The decision puts 115 journalists out of work, both at the New York operations that unionized and at those in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington that did not. They are getting three months of paid “administrative leave” at full salary, plus four weeks of severance, DNAinfo said.”
They have also locked or wiped the archives, so you cannot access any of the previous posts. Some of those posts were historic and held important reference information. It is tantamount to burning books. Poof — all of that history gone.
As a former LAist writer and photographer, I believe I speak for many of us when I say that we want access to our stories. Most of us wrote for free with the higher calling to document and memorialize the events of our city. Some of the posts were copy and pasted as we left, and the lucky (or smart) writers worked in Word instead of their platform, Moveable Type. But I worked in their platform and as of today, every word I typed and every photograph I took have gone into the ether.
[Update 11/4/2017 Yesterday the -ist archives were re-posted.]
It is a sad day for the future of LA blogging. No other blog provided that kind of local reporting. There is now a terrible void. Here are The LA Beat, we chose not to write news in order to not compete with LAist, and in order to not recycle stories and provide only original content. This may be our first news story of many.
Official announcement after the break.
November 2, 2017
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.
Chief Executive Officer