Billionaire CEO Joe Ricketts shuts down DNAinfo and Gothamist after unionization vote
Michael Walters and Alexander Fangmann
4 November 2017
Billionaire Joe Ricketts, the owner of the local news focused websites DNAinfo and Gothamist, abruptly shut down their web presence and removed online access to their archives on Thursday, in evident retaliation for a recent successful unionization vote. However, the move should be viewed not just as an act of right-wing union busting but as an outright act of political censorship by Ricketts, who is heavily active as a supporter of the Republican Party, and whose $2.1 billion net worth derives primarily from his role as founder of the financial brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.
DNAinfo and Gothamist, the latter of which had been acquired by Ricketts only in March, focused on local issues in New York City, Chicago, and other large American cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC. By reporting primarily on local issues, their reporters often covered stories that larger news outlets did not, including stories about police brutality and municipal political corruption. Such information was popular enough to draw around 15 million site visits per month.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held a formal vote, in which 25 out of 27 newsroom employees in the New York office voted to join the Writers Guild of America East (WGA East). The NLRB vote was held after Ricketts refused to recognize the union after workers had agreed to the WGA East’s unionization effort in April.
Ricketts, who epitomizes the outlook of the financial aristocracy, has been outspoken in his hostility to unions or to any encroachment on the rights of the bourgeoisie to trample on workers in any way they see fit. In an entirely…