So as I was at my journalist-ass job on Thursday, doing journalism things like editing and fact-checking, I saw some disturbing news crawl upon my Twitter feed. Billionaire supervillain and old white man Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and owner of DNAinfo and Gothamist, shut down the aforementioned digital news sites in what’s seen by many as a retaliatory move for the site’s writers deciding to unionize.
As the New York Times reported:
[A] post went up on the sites from Mr. Ricketts announcing the decision. He praised them for reporting “tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted and inspired millions of people.” But he added, “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.”
Ricketts’ decision cost 115 journalists who aren’t rich billionaires their jobs — this number not only includes those at the New York offices that unionized, but the ones in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington that did not. I mean, yeah, sure, they’re getting severance pay, but really, is that any consolation?
I mean, as writer John DeVore tweeted:
Folding a website & nuking all of the content before writers can save their work is unnecessary & petty. I get the revolt against Ricketts.
— John DeVore (@JohnDeVore) November 2, 2017
Now, some victim blamers will say that the staffers at DNAinfo and Gothamist should have seen this coming. The Times does report that, in September, Tronald Dump supporter Ricketts published a blog post titled “Why I’m Against Unions At Businesses I Create,” saying that “unions promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.” (Ricketts also pretentiously uses the phrase “esprit de corps” twice because douchebaggery.) He’s also on record as writing, “As long as it’s my money that’s paying for everything, I intend to be the one making the decisions about the direction of the business.”
So. What’s a recently terminated writer from DNAinfo/Gothamist (or any sister site) to do? Well, here’s at least one thing. Journalist Emily Crockett offered some tips to help affected writers retrieve their writing archive.
— Emily Crockett (@emilycrockett) November 2, 2017
That’s a thread, so click through and read her list of suggestions, which include such obvious options as visiting the Wayback Machine as well as not-so-obvious ones such as accessing and saving web page caches.
Look, I feel the pain of all those writers out there. This is a quite thankless vocation, and for some odd goddamn reason the moneyed villains don’t always think that what we contribute is worth a decent salary. Writing ain’t easy, hoss. Us wordsmiths (or is it we wordsmiths) deserve appropriate compensation.
And always remember — if you piss off a writer, you will die. I’m just sayin’. Take that as you will.