Four months after their billionaire owner shut them down, beloved local news sites Gothamist, DCist and LAist will soon be back online.
Three public radio stations are behind the resurrection. WNYC in New York, KPCC in Southern California and WAMU in Washington D.C. announced on Friday that they are acquiring key assets of the sites.
The acquisition is being funded mainly through funds from two anonymous donors, the stations said in a news release.
"For more than a decade, Gothamist served as a source of trusted local news," Laura Walker, the president and CEO of New York Public Radio, said in a statement. "That resonates with us at WNYC, where we are committed to telling stories rooted in New York and that matter to New Yorkers. As we've seen a decline in local journalism in even the largest metropolitan areas across the country, even at a time when it's so vital, we remain committed to strong, independent reporting that fills the void."
Gothamist and DCist will start up again in the spring, WNYC and WAMU said. It's not clear when LAist will be back online.
The announcement is a bright spot in what has been a difficult period for local news outlets across the country.
In November Joe Ricketts, who founded the online stock brokerage TD Ameritrade and whose family also owns the Chicago Cubs, abruptly shut down the local news sites one week after staff in the New York bureau voted to unionize. Ricketts, who was vocal about his opposition to unions, said in shutting down the sites that they had not made sufficient progress to "support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded."
Some staff at the various sites such as former LAist editor Julia Wick alleged the shut down was political due to the unionization efforts, and not due to finances.
The stations said the acquisition was a "result of a competitive process."
"The most important thing for me was to make sure the assets went to a news organization that would honor our commitment to neighborhood storytelling," Ricketts said in a statement. "I can't think of a better home for these sites and their archives than WNYC and public radio stations KPCC and WAMU."