DNAInfo.com shuts its doors this week

DNAInfo.com shuts its doors this week

Community news organizations including those online must do better job of fairly reporting the the news than the biased and racist major mainstream news media. Chicagoland journalism is plagued by bias and racism in the news media and its not an easy thing to fix. The demise of DNAInfo.com only underscores that journalists often tend to be their own worst enemies, playing politics to their personal satisfaction at the expense of great journalism. Their turn to unionize ended that experiment

By Ray Hanania

DNA Info (DNAInfo.com)appeared out of nowhere promising to put the focus back on real news emphasizing local communities.

It did a pretty good job of providing news the mainstream news media often ignores but it tended to still carry a narrow political agenda that pretty much kept it out of a lot of suburban neighborhoods.

Playing politics with news coverage is the cause of its downfall. It failed to make money because too many people felt it had the same biased political agenda that the mainstream news media has. Some communities got great coverage. Many others, unfavored by the mainstream news media and unfavored by DNA Info, did not.

That’s a shame.

Photos of daily newspapers

What Chicagoland needs is a good news site that provides news coverage across the board, with a genuine commitment to the suburbs. Chicagoland’s suburbans especially need a news media that eschews the biases of the major mainstream news media which suck up advertising dollars from the suburbs while providing very little if any substantive coverage.

Sadly, DNA Info was merely a “mini me” of the biased and corrupt mainstream news media, showcasing a lot of great writing talent.

But great writing talent is wasted when it has no place to go. The cost of bias and political favoritism and journalism cronyism is in fact very costly

And, as a result, we see the latest victim fall to the roadside.

Writers at DNAInfo were probably less concerned about their community news mandate than of restoring themselves to big mainstream news wages and salaries, which is why they turned to the journalism union.

When an organization is not making a lot of money, the first thing you do is try to find out why and make it work economically. You don’t bring in a union to destroy the whole operation.

Unions are good. But to fall on your union sword just to make a point sounds tragic

Here is the release by owner Joe Ricketts announcing the forced closing of DNAInfo.com but its writers who will be remembered for trying to do more for themselves than trying to do more for community journalism:

Dear DNAinfo and Gothamist Readers: 

Today, I’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue publishing DNAinfo and Gothamist. Reaching this decision wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t one I made lightly.

I started DNAinfo in 2009 at a time when few people were investing in media companies. But I believed an opportunity existed to build a successful company that would report unbiased neighborhood news and information. These were stories that weren’t getting told, and because I believe people care deeply about the things that happen where they live and work, I thought we could build a large and loyal audience that advertisers would want to reach.

A lot of what I believed would happen did, but not all of it. Today, DNAinfo and Gothamist deliver news and information each day to over half a million people’s email inboxes; we have over 2 million fans across our social channels; and each month, we have over 15 million visits to our sites by over 9 million people. But more important than large numbers of visits and fans, we’ve reported tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted, and inspired millions of people. And in the process, I believe we’ve left the world a better place.

But 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. I want to thank our readers for their support and loyalty through the years. And I want to thank our employees for their tireless effort and dedication.

I’m hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling for I believe telling those stories remains essential.


Joe Ricketts 
Chief Executive Officer

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

Suburban Chicagoland

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