Ricketts buys parent company of Chicagoist to merge with DNAinfo

Joe Ricketts

Chicagoist.com will become the official blog of DNAinfo Chicago under a deal announced Wednesday between the parent companies of the two hyperlocal news sites.

DNAinfo, the digital news operation founded by billionaire Joe Ricketts and based in New York and Chicago, has acquired Gothamist LLC, the network of news sites in New York (Gothamist), Chicago (Chicagoist), Los Angeles (LAist), San Francisco (SFist), and Washington, D.C. (DCist).

DNAinfo Chicago

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The move shortly follows staff cutbacks at DNAinfo Chicago, including the layoffs of two full-time editorial employees last month and an unspecified number of staff reductions earlier. Additional layoffs are expected to follow the merger of the two companies.

According to a joint statement, the initial plan is for Gothamist to become “the official blog of DNAinfo New York, handling city-wide events, viral stories, and lighter fare like food and arts coverage, while DNAinfo’s reporting staff continues to focus on neighborhood news.” Similarly, Chicagoist will become the official blog of DNAinfo Chicago.

“By joining forces with Gothamist, DNAinfo will be able to do an even better job of fulfilling its longstanding mission, which is to bring people the most relevant and interesting news and information about their neighborhoods,” Ricketts said. “Not only are Gothamist’s reach and sensibility a perfect complement to DNAinfo’s depth and focus, but their experience in developing multiple city blogs fits right in with our vision for future expansion. We think the result will be the most potent online source of neighborhood news and information available anywhere.”

Chicagoist

Jake Dobkin, publisher and co-founder of Gothamist, said: “Joe Ricketts shares our belief in the importance of neighborhood news and the conviction that unbiased reporting is critical to our democracy. We look forward to working together for many years and helping DNAinfo achieve its full potential in multiple cities.”

The five Gothamist LLC sites claim to attract nearly 9 million unique visitors a month, while DNAinfo in New York and Chicago claims more than 4 million visitors a month.

Ricketts, patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, founded DNAinfo in New York in 2009 and expanded to Chicago in 2012. Gothamist was founded in 2003 by Dobkin and executive editor Jen Chung. Both will become vice presidents of DNAinfo under the new agreement.