News is breaking after DNAinfo shutdown


News is breaking after DNAinfo shutdown

By Tyra Bosnic

Journalists are the watchdogs, the informers and the voices of society.

It may seem self-aggrandizing for college journalists to regard their future jobs in the news industry so highly, but in the years spent studying the impact of good reporting, it’s hard not to value the contributions the profession has made to provide thoughtful insight and needed transparency to the public.

Knowing the importance of reporting the news makes seeing the struggles affecting journalism even more devastating.

The latest tragedy to hit the industry was DNAinfo, The Chicagoist and Gothamist’s Nov. 2 shutdown. By using those online publications, readers learned anything from a rooftop bee colony in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood to a major water leak in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights.

Without warning, people were fired, publication halted and all that remained on the sites was a letter from the publications’ CEO Joe Ricketts, stating he was discontinuing publishing because they weren’t making a profit. The closure of DNAinfo and Gothamist came after reporters in the New York City and Los Angeles bureaus voted to unionize Oct. 26. Considering Ricketts’ staunch disapproval of unions, shutting down the sites was reportedly seen as payback for seeking union representation for writers.

With a single letter, 115 employees across New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C., were kicked to the curb while they were still working on and posting stories.

And the hits just kept coming.

Media company Condé Nast cut 80 jobs the same day and is expected to cut budgets up to 20 percent after instituting a hiring freeze and ending the print edition of Teen Vogue, according to trade journal Women’s Wear Daily. 

The Daily Herald, which covers news in Chicago’s suburbs, offered employee buyouts to reduce the publication’s costs. Daily Herald’s Chairman, Publisher and CEO Doug Ray also stated layoffs are still possible, according to Robert Feder, who reports on Chicago media under agreement with the Daily Herald.

The industry’s struggle to survive as print media becomes obsolete is inevitable. But with smart thinking and dedication, good reporting can survive and adapt to economic challenges. For good journalism to succeed, however, the public must realize and be willing to subsidize the invaluable service reporters provide.

If not, the world will be left in the dark.