On Thursday, they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down.
At 5 p.m., a post by Mr. Ricketts went up on the sites announcing the decision. He praised them for reporting “tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted and inspired millions of people.” But he added, “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.”
This is the weirdest goddamn thing in the world.
WGA has no charter in journalism. none. They have no contracts in journalism. Their rate card has no room on it anywhere for journalism of any kind. They are in force with the signatories of the Academy of Motion Picture and Television Producers. that's it.
The remuneration model of TV writing looks nothing whatsoever like online journalism. You get paid per episode. You get paid residuals for your work. There can be no more than eight credited writers ever (and that's damn tough - you need two teams of two people to share story, and two teams of two people to share screenplay). And they only do fiction.
I'm not sure how Gothamist paid. Apparently hella better than Gawker. But the piecework on screenplays is a whole nuther thing. Turn to page 8. A seat-of-the-pants calc says WGA rates for journalism would be a raise somewhere between 10x and 30x, depending on how you calculated it.
And he gave 'em all four months severance.
PROTIP: never let the WGA bargain for you. In 2006 the story producers on America's Next Top Model decided they were "Writers" and got the WGA-w to represent them. ANTM fired their entire story department and then unionized every other department just to send a message. Then in 2007 the WGA hired the son-in-law of the head of the AMPTP. WGA went on strike in 2008. Triggered force majeure on all the housekeeping deals in town. AMPTP got to clean house and fire everyone and the WGA came scuttling back for the rates they would have gotten anyway.
Never read Gothamist. But boy howdy. Any journalist who thinks a screenwriter's guild has their best interests at heart is lucky to get 4 months severance.