Joe Ricketts, the billionaire behind Ameritrade, tried to steal Gothamist from the people of this city, so we stole it back. We did it not to become rich ourselves, but to maintain a trusted and reliable source of fact-based news open to all New Yorkers – delivered with the same kind of pluck and verve readers have come to expect from Gothamist.
At the same time, Gothamist in Exile will be a radical experiment in crowd-sourced local news gathering. Like Gothamist, Gothamist in Exile will use the internet exclusively to disseminate the news we gather. But we’re also taking it a giant step further: our use of the digital domain will extend to gathering news as well.
Here’s our vision.
Right now Vlad Teichberg, our co-founder, is cooking up the code necessary to build a digital newsroom. Constructed like a chatroom, our digital newsroom will be a place where news-gatherers, whether they be ordinary citizens or professional journalists, can report information, bounce ideas off one another and pitch stories for publication.
Relatedly, we think that one of the things that made Gothamist so great was not just the journalism but the huge network of citizens who submitted information, tips and participated in discussions on the site – the so-called Commentariat. In short, our new digital newsroom seeks to empower the public to contribute, not just critique.
Our digital newsroom will be divided into sections, according to topics of interest. There will be a breaking news section, a section devoted to covering city and state government, arts and leisure, opinion and even – we hope – sports. Each section will be supervised, curated and edited by professional, experienced journalists.
The entire effort will be coordinated, facilitated and supervised by an editorial team, including JB Nicholas, a former Gothamist contributor, and Teichberg.
The editors, in turn, will answer to a council of stake-holders or “publishers,” whose collective voice will shape the editorial content of Gothamist in Exile. We are creating a news organization thats created by, run by and owned by the journalists who are publishing the news, as well as the people of the city who are helping to shape it.
Since this is a fact-based, journalistic enterprise, everyone will be held to the strictest ethical standards of professional journalism, as codified in this Code of Ethics published by the Society of Professional Journalists. Our citizen news gatherers, especially, will be advised of the code and our expectation that they will conduct themselves in accordance with it.
As with any news organization, we’ll implement safeguards to ensure that the information we publish is verified and true, but we’ll also devise special safeguards for our digital news gathering effort, given its open source nature.
Gothamist in Exile will be funded by recurring donations.
The digital newsroom will be ready soon. In the meantime, we’re asking professional journalists interested in taking charge of a section of our news website to email us at [email protected] and schedule an interview.
On Friday, the day after Ricketts announced the closing of Gothamist, we emailed a blanket invitation to join us to a former Gothamist staffer, who, we are told by a former DNAinfo staffer, forwarded our email to other former Gothamist as well as DNAinfo employees. To date, no former staff members of either organization have accepted our invitation.
Regardless, let this now be a direct invitation from us to any and all former Gothamist and DNAinfo staffers – join us.
Our use of Gothamist in Exile is not meant to imply that we represent everyone that contributed to Gothamist, but rather to protest news coverage controlled by the wealthy few who treat essential news publications as personal toys.
We launched this site to make sure there is a platform that continues to express the voices that Ricketts tried to silence.
Relatedly, we do not intend to be Gothamist in Exile forever. Instead, we intend to re-name the website as we grow and move forward.
We might not be the news website Gotham deserves, but we’re definitely the news website Gotham needs.