Local Journalists Rejoice After Public Radio Acquistion

Following the announcement from WAMU 88.5 that the NPR affiliate station, along with WNYC in New York and KPCC in Southern California, have acquired the defunct local news sites DCist, Gothamist and LAist, local journalists everywhere are celebrating.

Rachel Kurzius, the former DCist associate editor, said that there’s a mutual benefit to be had from the partnership.

“WAMU’s acquisition of DCist is great news for local news,” said Kurzius. “The two media properties have a lot to offer one another, and the audience stands to benefit tremendously from their partnership.”  

DCist, a publication that covers stories in the greater-Washington area, had approximately 700,000 readers and 400,000 followers on social media at the time of its shutdown in November 2017, according to WAMU. It was a beloved source of information, which covered hyperlocal topics such as weekend events and D.C. transit — stories that ordinarily don’t have as much traction at larger publications.

Joining the celebration across the Potomac in Virginia is Scott Brodbeck of Local News Now LLC, a publisher responsible for several local news sites in the region.

I think this is a really smart move by WAMU,” said Brodbeck. “DCist has a great brand in the eyes of younger D.C. residents, so this acquisition should allow WAMU to greatly extend the reach of its local journalism. DCist was an important part of the local news ecosystem, so as a fellow local news publisher, its revival is good to see.”

The Council of DC even tweeted in celebration. “In a day/week/month/year that frankly begged for some good news, here it is,” they wrote, with a gravestone image attached.

Former DCist staff writer Christina Sturdivant-Sani expressed gratitude towards DCist’s ability to give residents the microphone towards a larger audience.

Having hyperlocal reporting offers D.C. residents an opportunity to discover people, places, and issues that might get overlooked by mainstream media,” said Strudivant-Sani. “It also allows a better chance for residents to have their own stories heard.”

Agreeing with this is another former DCist contributor Pablo Maurer.

“WAMU has a reputation for covering areas of our community that aren’t quite well-enough covered by other outlets, something I think DCist did as well,” said Maurer.

Maurer specified that he wasn’t sure if he would be re-going the site, as it’s up to whoever leads the new relaunch.

“I’ve always loved working with the site’s editorial staff, folks who’ve given me creative freedom and taken a chance on stories that other local outlets may not have,” said Maurer.

It’s a huge move in favor of local journalism, especially after frequent shutdowns, layoffs and budget cuts. Perhaps there will be more partnerships in the future–but for now, DCist, LAist, and Gothamist will go live again in the spring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *