DNAinfo acquires Gothamist and its network of five city sites

The acquiring company currently owns news sites in NYC and Chicago, so this expands its holdings to sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC

There is more media M&A news today as neighborhood news and information company DNAinfo has acquired Gothamist, which has websites for Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

But the real news may that DNAInfo’s owner is Joe Ricketts, and that has the sellers making some excuses. Ricketts, who besides being part of the Ricketts family that owns the Chicago Cubs, is also a big supporter of Donald Trump. A big supporter, to the tune of donating one million dollars kind of supporter.

DNAinfo was founded in late 2009 as Digital Network Associates, then launched its NYC site. Its website for Chicago was launched in November 2012.

“While our politics and backgrounds may differ a bit from those of DNAinfo founder Joe Ricketts (he, for example, is a Cubs fan, while Mr. Met is our favorite baseball figure), we are all committed to building a news organization that offers quality journalism to our readers. We all believe that unbiased reporting is important for our democracy, especially in these times. And we all think that the best way to cover contentious issues is to offer opinions from both sides,” wrote Gothamist founders Jen Chung and Jake Dobkin today.

This will certainly change things. First, Gothamist will become the official blog for DNAinfo New York, while Chicagoist will be the official blog for DNAinfo Chicago. As DNAinfo currently doesn’t have sites in LA, SF or DC, maybe this is the start of them.

Also, it means, at least as Brendan O’Connor of Jezebel is reporting, that the former owners of Gothamist have made sure not to upset the new owner – they have deleted their negative coverage of Joe Ricketts.

But alas, the Internet has a way of retaining its contents, and Jezebel has links to the archived content.

Here is the acquisition announcement:

NEW YORK, NY – March 8, 2017 — DNAinfo, the award-winning online source for neighborhood news and information in New York and Chicago, has reached an agreement with Gothamist, LLC, to acquire its popular network of city award-winning news sites in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

“By joining forces with Gothamist, DNAinfo will be able to do an even better job of fulfilling its longstanding mission, which is to bring people the most relevant and interesting news and information about their neighborhoods,” said DNAinfo founder and CEO Joe Ricketts. “Not only are Gothamist’s reach and sensibility a perfect complement to DNAinfo’s depth and focus, but their experience in developing multiple city blogs fits right in with our vision for future expansion. We think the result will be the most potent online source of neighborhood news and information available anywhere.”

Joe Ricketts shares our belief in the importance of neighborhood news and the conviction that unbiased reporting is critical to our democracy,” said Gothamist publisher and co-founder Jake Dobkin. “We look forward to working together for many years and helping DNAinfo achieve its full potential in multiple cities.”

The initial plan is for Gothamist to become the official blog of DNAinfo New York, handling city-wide events, viral stories, and lighter fare like food and arts coverage, while DNAinfo’s reporting staff continues to focus on neighborhood news. In similar fashion, Gothamist’s sister site Chicagoist will become the official blog of DNAinfo Chicago. At the same time, all the Gothamist sites—including LAist in Los Angeles, SFist in San Francisco, and DCist in Washington, DC— will maintain their existing URLs, integrating relevant content from DNAinfo as appropriate.

Gothamist’s current executive editor and co-founder Jen Chung will become vice president of New York editorial for DNAinfo, overseeing content for both DNAinfo New York and Gothamist, while Dobkin will be named DNAinfo’s vice president for strategy and expansion. Both will report to Dan Swartz, who has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of DNAinfo. Swartz was previously the company’s chief marketing officer.

Founded in 2003 by Chung and Dobkin, Gothamist.com was originally created to serve New Yorkers with a mix of news, arts & entertainment, food, and more. Sibling sites Chicagoist.com, LAist.com, SFist.com, and DCist.com soon followed. The five Gothamist LLC sites currently attract an audience of nearly 9 million unique visitors a month.

DNAinfo launched its New York site in 2009. DNAinfo Chicago came online three years later. From the beginning, founder Ricketts told his editorial staff “to cover the news fairly and fearlessly.” Over the years, DNAinfo has won numerous journalism awards and established itself as a leading source of neighborhood news in both the Big Apple and the Windy City, regularly beating the major dailies and attracting more than 4 million unique visitors a month.

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