WAMU will keep DCist.com online for another year

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WAMU building

Sasha Fernandez/Current

WAMU's building in Washington, D.C.

WAMU in Washington, D.C., will keep its news website DCist.com online for a year while it seeks “a long-term home” for the site, the station said Wednesday.

The station announced Friday that it would shut down DCist.com to focus on its audio products. It also laid off 15 staffers. WAMU acquired DCist in 2018 and continued to post news coverage to the site, much of which was not cross-posted to WAMU.org.

As of Friday, visitors to DCist.com were redirected to WAMU.org and could not view any articles. 

After the Friday announcement, WAMU listeners, current and former employees, and local elected officials criticized the decision to close down DCist, arguing that WAMU was making an important repository of local news and history inaccessible. Some pointed out that shutting down the site would break many links on Wikipedia and in legal citations. 

“The DCist archive should remain public & accessible as a valued part of DC history,” Charles Allen, a member of the D.C. Council, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The station’s Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists bargaining unit urged management to keep DCist.com online. The site “is a record of everything that has shaped our community over the last two decades,” the unit wrote in a letter, which it also shared on X. “From police accountability investigations to coverage of the National Zoo’s naked mole-rats, DCist is where the city and the region came to be part of the shared conversation.”

The site is now open for viewing, with a note that “WAMU stopped publishing DCist.com in February 2024.”

“Establishing an appropriate home for an historic record such as this is a challenge facing many in the digital media space, and we will pursue options over the next year,” the station said in a statement Wednesday.

“We are glad that @AmericanU and @WAMU leadership unlocked DCist,” the union posted on X. “Making the archives available to the public is the right thing to do. We thank you for your support.”

“We continue to be concerned about the way WAMU handled the shut down of @DCist and laid off critical colleagues,” the union added. 

“We thank everyone for their support, encouragement, assistance, and reach-outs that led to unlocking DCist,” Matt Blitz, shop steward for the bargaining unit and a producer at WAMU, told Current in an email. “It could not have happened without all of that. There’s still lots of work to be done, but this decision is the right one.”

The Washington City Paper reported that the director of the city’s public library system said the D.C. government would try to acquire the archive.

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