After 8 years of covering Austin, the Austinist has decided to close its virtual doors.
At least that’s what they announced in their latest blog post entitled “Good-Bye and Thank You” by Jake Dobkin and Jen Chung, the folks behind Gothamist, LLC.
It looks as though they’re keeping their options open, though. If you go to the Austinist website right now, it actually says they are going on hiatus. So which is it?
Surely this is confusing for some of the Austinist faithful. As of this writing, there has been no mention of the Austinist shutdown to their 10,000+ fans on Facebook, or their 48,000+ followers on Twitter.
They did manage to post the information to the Austin subreddit, however.
For those not in the know, the Austinist is part of the “istaverse” which, in its run, has encompassed multiple cities including Austin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Toronto and Washington D.C. and others I believe.
The istaverse, centered in NYC at the Gothamist, is holding together as a whole. The majority of the ists are fully functional with now two exceptions that I know of.
No, Austin was not the first casualty.
On December 31, 2011, the Seattlest posted their final article, “Signing Off: The End of Seattlest.” In this article, Jose A. says, “In all honesty, what’s happening here is more of a remodel, while the folks at Gothamist Headquarters figure out and determine what will be happening with the site.” It’s been over two years since that post and nothing has been said on the Seattlest about what will happen with the site.
Then yesterday, on April 14, 2014 at 4:21 PM, came the news that the Austinist was closed. From the article by Dobkin and Chung, “Austinist hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves. We hope to contribute to the city again in the future, either through special editions or partnerships with other sites.”
Thoughts from Those Involved With The Austinist
There was an article written by Adam Schragin on June 11, 2013 entitled “The End of Our Austinist” which gave some insight into the frustration of the Austinist team at that time. Adam mentions Barbara Strickland as his “right-hand woman” and refers to her “stubborn optimism and overall good nature,” for which he says she was repaid by being fired. I reached out to Adam back then, but never got a response.
When the news hit yesterday, I decided to reach out to Jake on Facebook. In my message to him, I expressed my thanks for his team’s coverage of Austin for the past eight years. He replied that he appreciated me saying that. I followed up by asking if he would be willing to share any thoughts on what he may have done differently. As of this writing, I’ve not received a reply.
Barbara Strickland posted on Twitter:
Matthew Odam, who is now a restaurant critic and Features writer for the Austin-American Statesman, posted on Twitter:
Aleksander Chan, who was editor of the Austinist yesterday when they closed their doors, posted a three-part message on Twitter:
Questions About The Austinist Remain
It seems clear that there was something really good going on at the Austinist for quite some time. In 2012, though they were headquartered out of NYC, the Austinist was awarded the “Best Local Blog” by the Austin Chronicle.
A year later, a significant rift had developed and things started going downhill for the
Austinist Gothamist team in Austin. (As Brittany was reading the article, she asked why I struck through Austinist in the last sentence. It is my feeling that by this time, the folks who were involved with the Austinist felt like they were no longer able to be themselves and were having to cater to the folks in NYC. I could be off base.)
Suffice it to say, I’m at a loss.
As the founder of The Austinot, I pay close attention to the blogosphere in the city. Heck, The Austinot is a baby at just over 2 years old. We have much to learn. Wisdom comes from experience, and the folks who were part of the Austinist have been down the road quite a few more years than we have here at The Austinot.
I always try and learn from my peers, from the good and the bad. I don’t personally know Jake, Jen, Adam, Barbara or any of the others who have been a part of the Austinist team, so there are no personal thoughts from me, only unanswered questions. I’d love to hear from the folks who were involved, but I doubt that will happen. So the questions still remain…
Are they done?
Are they on hiatus?
Your guess is as good as mine.