Last Thursday, local news websites Gothamist and DNAinfo were abruptly shut down, just a week after company employees successfully unionized. Today, the Writers Guild of America is hosting a rally at 1pm in City Hall Park to "fight for" the journalists and other staff members who lost their jobs.
The event description reads: “On Thursday, the publications’ owner—right-wing billionaire Joe Ricketts—announced that he had shut down the popular local news sites and bragged that the employees were to blame for his decision because they exercised their right to unionize. Shame on you, Joe! Don't blame your business woes on the people who work hard to report news that New Yorkers need. Don't try to score ideological points by pretending employees don't have the right to bargain collectively. Let's show people like Joe Ricketts that New York is a union town, and that independent journalism is alive and well.”
Billionaire site founder Joe Ricketts shut the sites down and fired all 115 employees in several cities Thursday, blaming the failing state of the business in a statement. “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure,” Ricketts said. But he was criticized for punishing employees for unionizing by shuttering the business completely. A spokeswoman for DNAinfo told the New York Times, “The decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful.” Ricketts published a blog post in September titled “Why I'm Against Unions at Businesses I Create.”
Almost 400 people have RSVP'd for the rally on Facebook.