At 5 p.m. Thursday, without warning, local news site DCist shutdown, and the DCist website now redirects to a statement from Joe Ricketts, CEO of DNAinfo and Gothamist, the site’s parent company.
Ricketts cited an unsustainable business model as the reason for shutting the entire Gothamist and DNAinfo media groups down. All archives of the two sites have also vanished from the internet as all story URLs redirect to Ricketts statement, and content can only be accessed through cached pages or online tools like the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine.
The news came without any warning from the company to readers. Stories and social media posts were coming out of DCist’s newsroom up until the shutdown. Editor-in-chief Rachel Sadon tweeted “For once, I truly have no words” as the site went down.
Ricketts’ decision comes about one week after the New York City staffs at Gothamist and DNAinfo voted to unionize and join the Writers Guild of America. WGA East said in a statement to Bloomberg that “The Guild will be looking at all of our potential areas of recourse and we will aggressively pursue our new members’ rights.” As The New York Times reports, 115 journalists worked at the two companies.
DCist’s shutdown follows a string of losses for the local D.C. media scene. Washington City Paper is up for sale and it’s unclear what will happen if they can’t find a buyer. Baltimore’s City Paper recently published its last paper, but the staff plans to independently start its own publication, called Baltimore Beat, under the same group that owns Washington Blade. In December, hyperlocal news site Borderstan shutdown.
As the news broke late yesterday, the D.C. community took to Twitter. Here’s a look at some of those reactions:
Rachel Sadon, editor-in-chief of DCist
For once, I truly have no words.
— Rachel Sadon (@Rachel_Sadon) November 2, 2017
Eleanor Norton, U.S. congresswoman for D.C.
— Eleanor H. Norton (@EleanorNorton) November 2, 2017
Mayor Muriel Bowser
— MurielBowser (@MurielBowser) November 2, 2017
Martin Austermuhle, reporter at WAMU, former editor-in-chief of DCist
It's tragic. With @wcp up for sale and so many other publications closing or focusing on national, we truly have a crisis of local DC news.
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) November 2, 2017
The Council of the District of Columbia
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) November 2, 2017
Matt Cohen, arts editor at Washington City Paper, former editor-in-chief of DCist
i'm speechless right now. this is terrible. i can't fucking believe this. more than a decade of stellar journalism at @DCist is just gone.
— Matt Cohen (@Matt_D_Cohen) November 2, 2017
Alyssa Rosenberg, politics and pop culture commentator at The Washington Post
Vaporizing @DCist and its sister sites is the journalistic equivalent of blowing up Alderaan. This is terrible.
— Alyssa Rosenberg (@AlyssaRosenberg) November 2, 2017
Chris Geidner, legal editor at BuzzFeed
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) November 2, 2017
Sriram Gopal, music writer at DCist
I would've hit my 1000th post for @dcist in a couple weeks. All that work is gone into the either. Infuriating.
— Sriram Gopal (@srigop8) November 2, 2017