Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images for Roadside Attractions

Joe Ricketts, TD Ameritrade founder, billionaire, and father of Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, shut down the local news network of DNAinfo and Gothamist sites today, a week after the writers voted to unionize. Anyone attempting to reach one of the sites was redirected to this letter:

November 2, 2017

Dear DNAinfo and Gothamist Readers:

Today, I’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue publishing DNAinfo and Gothamist. Reaching this decision wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t one I made lightly.

I started DNAinfo in 2009 at a time when few people were investing in media companies. But I believed an opportunity existed to build a successful company that would report unbiased neighborhood news and information. These were stories that weren’t getting told, and because I believe people care deeply about the things that happen where they live and work, I thought we could build a large and loyal audience that advertisers would want to reach.

A lot of what I believed would happen did, but not all of it. Today, DNAinfo and Gothamist deliver news and information each day to over half a million people’s email inboxes; we have over 2 million fans across our social channels; and each month, we have over 15 million visits to our sites by over 9 million people. But more important than large numbers of visits and fans, we’ve reported tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted, and inspired millions of people. And in the process, I believe we’ve left the world a better place.

But DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure. And while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn’t been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded. I want to thank our readers for their support and loyalty through the years. And I want to thank our employees for their tireless effort and dedication.

I’m hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling for I believe telling those stories remains essential.

Sincerely,

Joe Ricketts

Chief Executive Officer

A DNAinfo spokesperson essentially admitted to the New York Times that the writers’ union drive was a “competitive obstacle” making it more difficult to be “financially successful,” so Ricketts’s explanation reads like horseshit covering up a malicious, calculated move. With the sites’ articles functionally locked, the reported 115 newly jobless writers now have no clips as they search for work, either. CNN’s Tom Kludt reports that the employees will be paid through February: