Following DNAinfo and Gothamist shutdown, strange Twitter account attempts to fill the void

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In the wake of yesterday’s sudden news that DNAinfo and Gothamist had both been shut down by owner Joe Ricketts in what was pretty obviously retaliation for employees unionizing just a week prior, multiple efforts have already begun to either revive the site or create a similarly hyper local replacement.

The first battle to be fought was saving the archives of both sites, all of which were replaced with a single one-page message from Ricketts for almost 24 hours. During this time, a retrieval tool was created by @xn9q8h and @turtlekiosk for the soul purpose of grabbing work from the archives while they were unavailable on the surface web. Also during this time, everyone hopefully bought a laid off reporter a drink.

Then it started getting weird. A too good to be true Twitter account, @GothamistLives, claiming to speak for a number of laid off staff, published a manifesto of sorts and invitation to meet up at the Starr Barr and “build a new New York City news website.” A website, gothamistinexile.com, was also created, and currently features one of the final news pieces to be published on the site. The article’s writer, JB Nicholas, an occasional freelancer for Gothamist, would seem to be the creator of the site, the Twitter account of which is not followed by any former Gothamist or DNA staffers.

For a brief period, the only account @GothamistLives followed was Barack Obama. Following criticism, @Gothamistinexile unfollowed Barack Obama and asked Twitter who it should follow instead.

In response to a neutral story from the New York Observer telling of the fight for the return of the archives and other responses in the wake of the shutdown, the Gothamistinexile Twitter proclaimed the piece “fake news” which, really, takes the account from being bizarre to being maliciously inept.

Meanwhile, on Reddit, one Astoria-based software engineer started a now 92-comment long thread rallying those interested to reach out and get a “Gothamist/DNAinfo like project up relatively quickly.” Certainly other similar threads will pop up in weeks to come.

Here’s to local journalism finding a way.

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