Gothamist and DNAinfo are a pair of websites that cover local journalism. Gothamist covers local news and events in New York and several other cities (with localized names). Meanwhile, DNAinfo focuses on New York and Chicago.
Unfortunately for the writers working for both, the sites were suddenly shut down yesterday by their owner, billionaire Joe Ricketts. Ricketts blamed the sites supposedly not being “economically successful” as the reason for the move. However, the real reason’s that the writers voted a week ago to unionize, a move Ricketts opposed.
A notice announcing the shutdown went up on both sites. However, going from merely anti-union (and union-busting) to petty, links to previous articles on both sites redirect to the notice. This suggests either just a hard redirect or (unfortunately) the archives outright deleted.
Like others online, I’m against this action. That said, some have suggested a few possible ways for the writers to retrieve at least some of what they’ve written, if they’ve failed to make backups on their own.
Google search cache
Google offers a cached version of some websites. While imperfect (even the cached page states it could vanish at any time), it’s better than nothing.
To access the cached version of a site (if available), click on the drop-down arrow at the end of a search result.
The Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine’s a site that attempts to create an online archive of past versions of all websites. While also imperfect, it’s used by some to retrieve otherwise-deleted material.
Simply enter a URL into the site’s search box, and the site will display various “snapshots” taken of sites over months or years.
Some might compare this to Gawker’s fate last year. Granted, Gawker brought a lot of problems upon itself. Still, it was also shut down by a conservative billionaire (Peter Thiel) for self-serving reasons.
The need for quality independent media’s more important now than ever, especially with a deregulation-minded, corporate-friendly (and problematic) president and administration now in charge. How to adequately fund indie journalism remains a problem to solve.
Update: According to Newsweek, both Gothamist and DNAinfo returned their archives online on Friday evening, with a link to the shutdown notice. However, the rest of what I wrote above still stands.