Gracie McKenzie is the audience engagement editor for CityLab. She previously worked in public radio, as the digital producer for NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show and Here & Now, and ran social media for Narratively.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks.
It’s been a few weeks of reckoning yet again with the future of local media.
The Baltimore City Paper published its last print edition the week before Halloween (though a new publication is coming in its place), the Washington City Paper is up for sale, and Thursday provided the kicker.
The network of city news sites collectively known as Gothamist and DNAinfo abruptly went dark, to the surprise not only of readers to but of most of the staff, also.
CEO Joe Ricketts, who started DNAinfo in 2009 and bought Gothamist and its network of sites (Chicagoist, LAist, SFist, DCist, and Shanghaiist) in March 2017, announced the closure a week after the staff voted to unionize, in a statement that read: “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.”
“I'm hopeful that in time,” Ricketts added, “someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling for I believe telling those stories remains essential.”
The next day, Spirited Media (which owns similar sites Billy Penn, which covers Philadelphia; Pittsburgh’s The Incline; and Denverite in Denver), announced it would also lay off five journalists.
Help us tell the story of what these publications mean to cities. What's the best thing local publications like Gothamist, DCist, Chicagoist, LAist, SFist, Shanghaiist, or alt-weeklies have done for your city?
To get the wheels in your head turning, here are a few Twitter tributes already circulating:
My @LAist story, in tweets. Pull up a chair.— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) November 3, 2017
Deeply disappointed at the decision to shut down DNAinfo and Chicagoist, which provided valuable reporting for Chicago's neighborhoods.— Mayor Rahm Emanuel (@ChicagosMayor) November 3, 2017
this summer, @DCist published one of the best local stories I've read recently about gentrification & the struggle over public space— Elahe Izadi (@ElaheIzadi) November 2, 2017
Help us out? Comment here, Tweet at us, comment on this post on Facebook, or send me an email (link below my name here.) While the sites were completely replaced with Ricketts’s note on Thursday and Friday, the archives have since been restored—so please send us links, too!