Published November 03, 2017

Shanghaiist Shut Down In Wake of Billionaire's Sweeping Decision

Gentleman, it's been a pleasure

By Dan Entwistle


China watchers the world over were stunned this morning as they awoke to find shutdown.


Visitors to the popular China news website discovered that every link to Shanghaiist redirected to a letter from Billionaire CEO Joe Ricketts informing them of his decision to shutter the New York newsrooms of DNAinfo and Gothamist.


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Joe Ricketts' letter to Gothamist and DNAInfo readers


In his letter, which did not mention other Gothamist network websites such as Shanghaiist, Chicagoist, DCist, SFist or LAist, Ricketts wrote that he made the the “difficult decision to discontinue publishing DNAinfo and Gothamist” claiming that the two websites were not successful enough to “support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded.”


Ricketts’ decision came just a week after news writers at both the Gothamist and DNAinfo newsrooms voted to unionise. According to a spokesperson for DNAinfo “the decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful.”



Shanghaiist's Managing Editor's response to the unexpected shuttering of the site.


Following Ricketts’ public announcement and the forced redirect of traffic this morning at 5AM, Kenneth Tan the Managing Editor of Shanghaiist, a website that played no role in the New York’s office unionisation, tweeted out “FML.”


With over five million Facebook fans and an extensive archive of China-centric news articles, Shanghaiist was the Gothamist network’s most well-known website, and was a must visit page for China watchers interested in stories that other international news companies wouldn’t cover.


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Following this morning’s news, China hands from across the globe have been tweeting their disappointment at the decision, with NPR’s Shanghai correspondent Rob Schmitz writing: “Waking up to the terrible news that @shanghaiist is no more. To @MrKennethTan & Co, many thanks for years of service to your loyal readers.”


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“Shanghaiist was my first media job, after @MrKennethTan took a huge gamble on me for which I'm forever grateful.”, wrote CNN journalist and former Shanghaiist writer James Griffiths.


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“This is really sad news. @shanghaiist brought much needed levity and fun to China coverage. Will really be missed @MrKennethTan,” wrote Ananth Krishnan, the China Correspondent and Associate Editor at India Today.


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“When I worked at Shanghaiist, I assumed I’d eventually push it too far and (get) taken offline or censored. Never imagined it would come from the US” wrote Erik Crouch, another former Shanghaiist writer.


As of yet it is unclear as to if or when Shanghaiist readers will be able to access the website’s archive of news stories, with an official at DNAinfo telling the New York Times that the stories would be archived online.


A range of reporters from Shanghaiist have gone on over the years to form successful careers at international news organisations including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The South China Morning Post, Time and more.


While’s future remains uncertain for the moment, we’re confident that Managing Editor Kenneth Tan and his team of writers will be back in some form or other very soon.


Related:  The Nanfang News Website Shuts Down