DNAinfo and Gothamist, two major sources of local news for several U.S. cities, both suddenly shut down Thursday afternoon -- just a week after the sites' reporters and editors announced they'd voted to join a union.
Instead of a slew of stories with grabby headlines like "The Best Halloween Costumes on the NYC Subway" or "Man Convicted of Killing Girlfriend in Hotel Room, But Not Her 2 Kids," clicking on the sites now leads to a simple letter from CEO Joe Ricketts.
"DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure," Ricketts wrote. DNAinfo bought Gothamist this past March.
The sites' staffers voted to join the Writers Guild of America East last week, The New York Times reported. Management had warned it could spark problems, the newspaper added.
In fact, Ricketts published a blog post in September entitled: "Why I’m Against Unions At Businesses I Create." It explained the benefits he found in the free enterprise system.
Writers and editors pointed out that digital journalism does not pay the salaries that print journalists used to earn many years ago.
The shuttering of both sites, which drew millions of readers each month, has put 115 journalists out of work, the newspaper added.
Ricketts is also the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade. His family owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.
Gothamist also operated local sites for Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., while DNAinfo also had a Chicago counterpart.