Three years after being rescued by listener-supported WNYC radio, NYC-focused website Gothamist suffered a jolting round of layoffs on Friday that cut loose its editor-in-chief.
“My incredible 15 year journey with @Gothamist came to an end today. I was laid off,” tweeted editor-in-chief John Del Signore. Gothamist’s City Editor Christopher Robbins, who started as a reporter four years ago, also tweeted that he had been let go.
The lay offs were part of deeper cost-cutting at WNYC that impacted 14 positions or 4 percent of staff, across the organization as it copes with a dramatic fall off in contributions due to COVID-19, despite landing $8.9 million from the federal payroll protection program, the news organization said.
WNYC CEO Goli Skeikholeslami in a memo told to staffers that the station is entering fiscal year 2022 with “a sizeable deficit” as sponsorship funding plunged 27 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. “And we cannot achieve our goals and meet our commitments while shouldering a fourth year of losses.”
Skeikholeslami said the cuts affected four jobs in news and 10 in other departments. The company also implemented a series of other cutbacks, including the freezing of pay hikes for employees making over $100,000, cutting retirement contributions to the 403(b) plan by 50 percent from July through year end and capping vacation carryover days at 10 this year and five next year.
“In aggregate, the actions we are announcing today reduce our deficit by $3 million for FY22, enabling us to get on a path to financial sustainability. Without taking the additional cost-saving measures, the number of staff cuts would have been far greater,” she said.
Both Del Signore and Robbins were survivors of Gothamist’s near-death experience in 2017 when Joe Rickets, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, pulled the plug on it and sister website DNAinfo.
The two websites were shut down and their staffers were laid off en masse one week after they voted to unionize in October 2017. Rickets at the time said running a website “is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.”
A few months later, in February 2018, WNYC swooped in to rescue Gothamist. Two other public radio sites acquired companion sites LAist and DCist. WNYC said the deals were funded by “two anonymous donors.”
Both Del Signore and Robbins say they are now looking for work.
“Please do send any work leads my way!” Robbins said.
“DMs are open if you know of any work editing, writing, plate spinning, etc.,” De Signore said.