On Thursday, November 2, it was announced that the online-only, city-centric news outlets Gothamist and DNAinfo had been abruptly shuttered — archives and all — by owner Joe Ricketts in response to the organization’s vote to unionize. Both online newspapers, Gothamist (and LAist, DCist, Chicagoist, and SFist) and DNAinfo were updated numerous times each day, with a focus on local news, events, food, and culture.
This special edition of the Web Archiving Roundup takes a look at what others are saying about Gothamist and DNAinfo — and online news — in the wake of their sudden shutdown.
- Archive, archive, archive: NiemanLab links to several external efforts to archive both Gothamist and DNAinfo, and reminds us of the risks of ‘billionaire-funded media.’ (Archived link.)
- What We Lose in the Disappearing Digital Archive: on Splinter, David Uberti writes: ‘It’s likely that additional existing [online] publications will close in the face of economic upheaval, leaving their sites vulnerable to technical failure without consistent upkeep.’ Uberti also speaks with Abbie Grotke, web archiving team lead at the Library of Congress, who discusses the difficulties of capturing online news. (Archived link.)
- When your server crashes, you could lose decades of digital news content — forever: in 2014, the Columbia Missourian suffered a server crash and ‘in less than a second, the newspaper’s digital archive of fifteen years of stories and seven years of photojournalism were gone forever.’ What’s worse, as Edward McCain writes, is that ‘very little is known about the policies and practices of news organizations when it comes to born-digital content.’ (Archived link.)
- If a Pulitzer-finalist 34-part series of investigative journalism can vanish from the web, anything can: written in 2015, ‘Raiders of the Lost Web‘ argues that ‘the web, as it appears at any one moment, is a phantasmagoria. It’s not a place in any reliable sense of the word. It is not a repository. It is not a library. It is a constantly changing patchwork of perpetual nowness. You can’t count on the web, okay? It’s unstable. You have to know this.’ (Archived link.)
Tools and additional links:
- From @rhizome and Webrecorder.io: a quick how-to video for recovering articles from the DNAinfo sites with @webrecorder_io, https://instagram.com/p/BbBH207Fx7y/.
- Made by @xn9q8h and @turtlekiosk: the Gothamist Archive Retrieval Tool, which retrieves clips from Google AMP caches.
- After Gothamist: how to read Web pages that have gone to their grave, from USA Today.
Conference alert: on November 15 and 16, follow along with Dodging the Memory Hole, a conference dedicated to the issue of preserving born-digital news content.