If there was ever a glaring moment where I realized why I left my job at JFK Airport at Terminal 5 to start Elevtr, (which at many moments have felt like pushing a boulder up a hill), this past week Gothamist and DNA Info being torched by billionaire Joe Ricketts was one of them.
What’s more apparent this year is how indie media and moreover people run/owned companies are at war with international corporate hydras & the billionaires that gauge their way to be a part of them are responsible to no law on earth. The law is only for the ultra rich to be used to sue us out the wazoo at a whim should we dare fight back from desuetude to slave wage jobs in a country they are holding hostage. Any day vital public services can be made an example by some parasitic boss who bought it out just to shut us down. This is an enemy from within scenario, a trojan horse on the back of decades of class warfare and vulture capitalism.
There’s plenty of blame on the emergence of neo-liberalism that favored the monopolization of the media by Clinton in the 90’s and a fair amount of union busting, but this is on another next level. The insatiable power and gross sum behemoths are more willing to destroy what they usurp than allow the rights of workers to develop and advocate for livable means, unlike the soft payola and consolidations in private, this is all out class warfare.
Writers at the local New York City news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist learned a hard lesson on Thursday, billionaire Joe Ricketts abruptly shut down the publications and fired their employees simply for voting to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. Yes, that’s billionaire with a “B” cares about keeping his profits to appease his kingly greed over the welfare of and LIVES of his employees. My hope is that this results in a resurgence of unions, especially among journalists. Unions are the best route to the middle class, which is exactly why bosses don’t want us to have them. And it is so important that all workers, but especially those who serve as accountability checks to those with money and power, can organize to demand what is rightfully theirs.
[Gawker shut down]
sounds nice but
[DNAinfo shut down]
it would cost jobs
[Gothamist shut down]
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) November 2, 2017
One of the last few beacons of traditional journalism outfits making decent transition to the digital market, Gothamist and DNA Info were doing important work for New York. Thursday however, Ricketts canned more than 100 journo’s who tried to advocate for fair wages and conditions—many of whom have rushed directly into terror attacks, exposed the injustices of our fellow citizens—and held nearly 15 years’ worth of local journalism hostage for nearly 24 hours in the process. (Ricketts, who made his fortune with a successful brokerage firm and founded DNAinfo in 2009, donated a million dollars to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign last year.)
“It was always a strange fit: When Ricketts purchased the 14-year-old Gothamist LLC in March, its flagship website Gothamist quickly decided to delete articles that were critical of its new owner. In recent weeks, the staff took steps to join a union, despite the owner’s resistance to the idea. “As long as it’s my money that’s paying for everything,” Ricketts wrote in an email to staff in spring, “I intend to be the one making the decisions about the direction of the business.”
Gothamist and DNAinfo are merely the latest casualties of a billionaire war on journalism. It has been a little more than a year since a lawsuit secretly funded by Libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel resulted in the shuttering of Gawker.com, a site whose core mission revolved around criticizing (and frequently mocking) the powerful and famous. (Aside from six Gawker posts that were deleted as part Gawker Media’s sale to Univision, the site’s archives remain online, but that could change soon now that the site is for sale.)
This latest shutdown has all the elements of media-world class war: old-timey union-busting, a powerful billionaire putting dozens of reporters out of work and a decision that will ultimately result in less media coverage of local corruption and street-level news.
DNAinfo broke quite a few stories about police brutality. Not only shutting them down, but wiping their archive, is a political act.
— Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths) November 2, 2017
Those who abuse power on the grand scale have frequently lived just long enough to regret their actions. The higher profile cases are usually dictators and monarchs… (names like Caesar, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Ceaucescu spring to mind) but, when the guillotines are being set up in public squares, all the wealth and power in the world won’t necessarily preserve these miserable owners of so many millions from “natural justice” at the hands of the mob. It seems to be almost automatic for absolute power to corrupt absolutely, but it would be well for billionaires who so brazenly abuse their positions to consider that a bit of humility goes a long way.
— 🌻Jabari Brisport🌹 (@Jabari2017) November 2, 2017
The erasure of DNAinfo and Gothamist really says something about how vulnerable the truth of history is in the digital age.
— Dystopian Scribe (@MsKellyMHayes) November 2, 2017
Infuriated by what just happened w/ DNAinfo & Gothamist. They unionized so the asshole billionaire who owned the company shut them down.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) November 2, 2017
The fact that a billionaire can just buy out media outlets #DNAInfo/Gothamist, shut them down & delete their archives is terrifying & absurd
— Hoda Katebi (@hodakatebi) November 3, 2017
Thread. I started a list of articles from Gothamist with links to the Internet Archive, 12k so far. https://t.co/XwbQkUA0DV (cont’d)
— Paul Ford (@ftrain) November 3, 2017