Owner Closes Local News Sites After Writers Vote to Unionize

Gothamist, DNAinfo sites in multiple cities shuttered Thursday
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2017 6:52 PM CDT
Updated Nov 3, 2017 12:30 AM CDT
Owner Closes Local News Sites After Writers Vote to Unionize
Joe Ricketts, seen here in 2014, shuttered Gothamist and DNAinfo news sites in multiple cities Thursday, putting 116 employees out of work a week after some voted to unionize.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

One week after 27 New York employees of local news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist voted to unionize, they were out of a job, the New York Daily News reports. But they weren't alone. The 89 employees at DNAinfo and Gothamist-affiliated sites in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, also found themselves suddenly out of work Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I yelled a lot and somebody told me to stop," Gothamist reporter David Colon tells the New York Times. "Now we're all trying to figure out what to do." Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of Ameritrade TD who started DNAinfo in 2009 and acquired Gothamist in March, said in a statement posted online that "progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business ... hasn't been sufficient."

A spokesperson for DNAinfo says the unionization of employees was "simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful." Employees had voted to unionize for better pay. After the vote, DNAinfo reporter Katie Honan said journalism "should be a career for people, not a postcollege hobby." But Ricketts, a Trump donor, has expressed anti-union views in the past, saying in September that a union "destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed." A DNAinfo executive also warned employees that unionization could cause the sites to close. "I'm very adamant that the union didn't kill DNAinfo and Gothamist, Joe Ricketts made the decision to kill Gothamist and DNAinfo," Gothamist reporter Scott Heins says. All stories on the closed sites disappeared Thursday, but a DNAinfo official says they will be archived. (More labor unions stories.)

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