The loss of Gothamist and DNAInfo this week is difficult to fully fathom. Launched in 2003, Gothamist heralded the emergence of a new generation of hyper-local news reporting in New York City. The blog soon spawned offshoots in major cities across the country, and then the globe. Other sites including Patch and DNAInfo soon followed, their reporting filling in a crucial niche as more traditional outlets either went out of business or dramatically cut back on local coverage. Early this year, Gothamist and DNAinfo completed a merger in an attempt to make the business model more sustainable.
Yet, this week, but outlets were abruptly and callously shuttered, and their staff dismissed.
In many cases DNAinfo and Gothamist were the only organizations with ongoing coverage of certain stories. In most cases, their local coverage far exceeded that of their traditional media counterparts. This was especially true on issues like homelessness, transit and education and local politics. Since DNAInfo and Gothamist were national organizations, with a presence in most major cities, their demise will affect millions of city-dwellers across the country.
Here in New York, we still have a vibrant, albeit diminished, cohort of local news organizations. This isn’t true in major markets like Atlanta and Philadelphia, which are down to one or two major newspapers.
They will be sorely missed.