LAist is making a comeback four months after it was abruptly shut down. Pasadena-based public radio station KPCC (89.3 FM) announced Friday its purchase of LAist’s website, story archives and social media accounts.
“We want to tell stories that inform, inspire and connect Angelenos to one another. That’s what KPCC is dedicated to providing, and that’s what LAist was doing when it shut down in November,” Kristen Muller, KPCC’s chief content officer, wrote in an open letter.
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KPCC will partner with New York’s WNYC and Washington, D.C.’s WAMU to run LAist and its sister publications. The two philanthropic donors financially backing the deal elected to remain anonymous but “are deeply committed to supporting local journalism initiatives,” according to a statement.
The outlet and its sister news sites were unceremoniously shuttered by owner Joe Ricketts shortly after their editorial staff voted to unionize. As a result, 115 staffers lost their jobs.
At the time, Ricketts — who historically has made no bones about his belief that “unions exert efforts that tend to destroy the free enterprise system” — claimed that “progress hasn’t been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded.” A spokesman for DNAinfo, part of Ricketts' group of websites, also explicitly cited unionization as an impediment to financial success.
The sale should be a massive shot in the arm for KPCC’s digital reach. LAist pulled in 776,000 visitors in October 2017, its last month in operation, while KPCC drew in 689,000. The outlets’ mission will continue to prioritize coverage of housing, homelessness, transit and local government, according to Muller’s open letter. It remains to be seen how KPCC will balance its traditional style of journalism with LAist’s more irreverent ways.