Hyperlocal news site DNAinfo.com, which serves Chicago and is based in New York, acquired Gothamist, another hyperlocal site that serves Chicago, New York and several other cities, on March 8, Politico reports.
Chicagoist will now become the “official blog” of DNAinfo Chicago, according to a Gothamist statement.
The purchase is a clash of politics, as DNAinfo was founded by and is owned by a member of the Ricketts family, Joe Ricketts, a major donor to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s, then later Donald Trump’s, presidential campaigns. Gothamist and its member sites are generally considered liberal or progressive.
The Ricketts are sometimes incorrectly described as liberal, primarily because of Laura Ricketts, daughter of Joe, who co-owns the Chicago Cubs and has fundraised for multiple Democrats. She’s the only Democrat-leaning Ricketts; her brother Todd also co-owns the Cubs and is Trump’s nominee for deputy secretary of commerce.
Just a few hours after the acquisition was announced, Jezebel uncovered that multiple Gothamist posts critical of Joe Ricketts had been removed from the site. Most were from May 2012 and covered Joe Ricketts’ anti-Obama activities. Responding to a question about it from Jezebel, Gothamist co-founder Jake Dobkin said, “Just as Bloomberg [magazine] doesn’t cover [former New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, we don’t plan to cover Joe Ricketts and so we decided to take down our coverage of him. No one asked us to do it.” Dobkin’s statement about Bloomberg is incorrect, as Jezebel points out. No articles appear to have been removed from Chicagoist.
No layoffs were announced with the acquisition, although DNAinfo laid off five journalists from its New York newsroom at the end of February, as Politico also reported. Joe Pompeo, Politico’s reporter, speculated that further layoffs could be possible. Chicagoist employs 20 people, including some part-time contributors.
Gothamist, which was founded in 2003 and pre-dates DNAinfo by about six years, announced the purchase on its site. Given the “official blog” designation for Chicagoist, which was expanded upon in a memo to include “handling city-wide events, viral stories, and lighter fare like food and arts coverage,” staff members who cover arts and food seem safer than those writing about news.
Editor’s note: LoganSquarist is an independent publication and is not affiliated with either DNAinfo or Gothamist.