Because the calendar seems to have reset to 1899 (or a dystopian 2099?), last month the billionaire owner of a major online news syndicate shuttered the sites a week after newsroom workers formally declared their intention to unionize under the Writer’s Guild of America East. On November 2nd, Gothamist and DNAInfo CEO Joe Ricketts replaced the front pages of the websites, including Gothamist’s many local subsidiaries, with a letter explaining that he had decided to discontinue publication:
What happened next was akin to hysteria, as the worst nightmares of journalists and digital archivists appeared to have come true. Contributing writers use their published articles as a form of portfolio for acquiring new work. So when it was discovered that as of 5pm the site’s thousands of articles – amassed over over a decade – were no longer accessible, panic began to spread among journalists. The internet black hole appeared to have opened up and swallowed their livelihood, just like those skeptics among us had always warned it would.