The Shanghaiist English-language news and culture blog has been shut down and its content removed from the internet after 12 years. US operator DNAinfo closed its eight global city websites a week after writers at its New York branch voted to unionise with the Writers Guild of America, East.
Billionnare CEO and owner Joe Ricketts, who purchased the network earlier this year, opposed the move. Over 115 staff and journalists will be out of work, though they will receive a full salary for four months.
The network of websites, along with DNAinfo.com reached 15 million readers per month and published tens of thousands of stories. Shanghaiist boasted over five million fans on Facebook and four million pageviews on its website per month, according to its media kit. It specialised in news, events, food and entertainment coverage for young urbanites.
A message left on each of the websites from Ricketts cited financial concerns for the closure: “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.”
A spokeswoman said: “The decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful.” DNAinfo also told the New York Times that currently inaccessible content will be archived online.
On Friday, Shanghaiist Managing Editor Kenneth Tan wrote simply on Facebook: “FML.”
When I worked at Shanghaiist, I assumed I'd eventually push it too far and taken offline or censored. Never imagined it would come from US
— Erik Crouch (@erikcrouch) November 2, 2017
The closure comes as another blow to English-language city news in the region. China news and commentary site The Nanfang closed last December along with viral blog China Smack earlier in the year. The South China Morning Post axed its English-language lifestyle and listings publication HK Magazine last October.
HKFP has reached out to Tan.