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WAMU Washington, DC Shutters Online Publication DCist.


American University pubcaster WAMU Washington, DC (88.5) abruptly shut down DCist, with a pop-up message appearing on the online publication before being redirected to the website of the news/talk station.


“Thank you for visiting and supporting DCist. Since 2018, it has been a part of WAMU 88.5, the Washington region's public media and NPR member station,” the message read. “As of February 23, the site will no longer publish new content. Please visit WAMU.org for local news and programming. You will be automatically redirected to WAMU.org in 15 seconds.”


“The shift away from digital publishing will allow WAMU to focus on its core radio products, as well as new digital audio opportunities like podcasts and live events,” WAMU GM Erika Pulley-Hayes told Axios. "We're making the choice to invest in what we're better at than anyone else in this town, and that's audio."


"We feel like this is the best way for us to engage and build loyalty," WAMU Chief Content Officer Michael Tribble added.


Peter Cherukuri, Vice Chair of WAMU's Board of Advisers, remarked, "Too many media companies fail by trying to be all things to all people, leaving their value proposition diluted and weakened."


As a result of DCist being shuttered, 15 positions have been eliminated, however, WAMU says new positions will be added, mostly audio techs and producers. Plans are to introduce a new, local radio program and create a new app, Axios reports.


The sudden shutdown was preceded by “a curt email on Thursday,” according to a post on the X account WeMakeWAMU, which is run by union members of the staff.


“This morning, @wamu885 management informed us they are laying off 15 vital people from our organization. These individuals are the lifeblood of our journalism. Our hearts are broken. We can’t believe we are losing our colleagues and friends,” the post began. “We are also devastated to report that management is shutting down @DCist.”


The union members said the Thursday email was “followed by a short Friday morning announcement” which “undid years of work. That’s thousands of daily stories, countless hours of work, and many, many, community voices… all gone.”


WAMU plans to expand the presence of one of its most popular hosts Kojo Nnamdi, who anchors the weekly “The Politics Hour” program. According to Axios, the station plans to capitalize on the program with an expansion of its political division across the District, Maryland, and Virginia. WAMU will also invest more in arts and culture reporting.

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