De Blasio blasts conservative billionaire for closing two local news sites

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Billionaire Joe Ricketts’ decision to close down two New York City news brands on Thursday drew heated words from Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday. Calling Ricketts a “coward,” de Blasio denounced the decision and said it was a loss for the city.

Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, announced that he had shut down a number of newsrooms across the country, including DNAInfo and Gothamist, both which were in New York, after they voted to join a union last week.

On Thursday afternoon, Ricketts released a letter on the newsrooms’ websites, saying he was proud of the work they’d done. Ultimately, news brands are businesses and “businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure,” he wrote.

Despite any sound reasoning for shuttering the companies, de Blasio was unimpressed. He took to Twitter with a scathing message.

The mayor wrote: “Joe Ricketts is a coward. He wouldn’t last a minute under the intrepid scrutiny of the reporters he employed. What a loss for our city.”

DNAInfo was started in 2009 “to fill a growing gap in local news coverage,” Ricketts wrote. According to The Hill, he decided to close the company after employees in New York voted to unionize last week. The decision to unionize was “simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful,” a spokeswoman for DNAInfo told The New York Times on Thursday.

“The journalists at DNAInfo and Gothamist told good stories. They told important stories,” said Steve Scott, the New York Press Club president. “They won multiple New York Press Club awards for their work. Sadly, those stories may now go untold. Our city will be poorer for that.”

The Ricketts family also owns the Chicago Cubs.

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