The billionaire owner of Gothamist and DNAinfo, a series of hyperlocal-news websites, shut both of them down on Thursday evening, just a week after staffers voted to join the Writers Guild East of America.
Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade who founded DNAinfo in 2009 and bought Gothamist in March, explained the decision in a post on the former DNAinfo site.
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.
The decision puts 115 journalists out of work, including those who worked in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington. In a statement to the Times, a spokesperson explained that the recent vote to unionize was only part of the decision to kill the sites. “The decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful,” the statement said.