Dear Shanghaiist readers,
On the morning of November 3rd, we woke up to a rude shock when it appeared that a switch was flicked and our website was taken down, along with more than 35,000 stories we have written over 12 years.
We apologize for our silence over the past week as we mourned the sudden demise of the Gothamist network and tried to make sense of what was happening.
A number of media reports (and obituaries) have since been written, and we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify a few things:
- Shanghaiist operates as an independent entity that will not be affected by the shutdown of the network’s sites for the following cities in the United States: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
- Shanghaiist was not in any way involved in the union vote that ostensibly led the owner of DNAinfo to shut down the network. Since the founding of our site in 2005, the Shanghaiist crew has retained independent control of our own editorial and advertising operations, as well as our own staffing. We received invaluable support from Gothamist over the years in web design and hosting, but on a day-to-day basis had little contact with any of our sister sites. The same was true for other websites within the network that were serving cities outside of the United States. Each site sank or swam on its own.
Here’s the good news:
we’re still here, and
we don’t plan on going anywhere.
Having now regained access to our website, we wanted you to be the first to know what we are doing now and will be preoccupied with in the weeks ahead:
- Securing our archives for posterity. By migrating our entire website to a new server, we will be able to ensure that you (and we) won’t ever again have to endure the shock of waking up to find the site gone. This will be a massive undertaking that will take time, since we’re talking about tens of thousands of stories, plus hundreds of thousands of images. It’s a living body of work we hope will continue to evolve for many more generations.
- Redesigning a whole new digital presence from the ground up. Many of you will no doubt be excited to hear we will finally be sporting a new look, but beyond everything you see on the front-end, there will be many more things you don’t see on the back-end that we’ll have to redesign from scratch. One of those things is a much-needed and very belated update from our clunky old blogging software to WordPress.
- Assembling a tech team. As we speak, we’re busy cobbling together a team of specialists who will help us understand the many tech issues we’ve never really had to deal with before. We want to find the right people that will help us get things done right. And if taking more time is what we need to do to ensure fewer screw-ups, that is what we’ll do.
We’ve been immensely touched and grateful
for the many messages of support we have received in the wake of our site’s sudden disappearance: some from our long-time readers, others from China watchers that we hold in high esteem.
Perhaps the highest praise came from the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, which described us as a “venerable institution” and “a daily joy to read.”
“This is really sad news,” wrote Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent for India Today (and previously The Hindu). “Shanghaiist brought much needed levity and fun to China coverage. Will really be missed.”
“I’m so heartbroken over this,” wrote Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of Good Chinese Wife. “You kept so many of us sane and in tears (from laughter) all these years. Thank you!”
“[A] big loss for China watchers” was how Eric Fish, formerly a journalist in Beijing for The Economic Observer, and author of the book China’s Millennials: The Want Generation, described the events of the past week. “I can’t even fathom the number of stories I saw first or exclusively on Shanghaiist over the years,” he added.
One long-time reader, describing herself as an “eternal fan,“ wrote to tell us, “In making Shanghai feel doable, accessible and giving me a little courage to take the giant leap of faith in moving to China, leaving a comfortable life in London and Mumbai, you made all the difference.”
“You were my guide to life in Shanghai while I was there,” another reader messaged us last week. “You kept me informed and engaged like no other expat publication did. After I moved I continued to read you to keep my finger on the heartbeat of my faraway home and the culture I had come to love so much.”
A young Chinese millennial now working as a research assistant with a university in the United States wrote, “Shanghaiist is so much more than a news site.” He is one of a growing number of Chinese nationals who have come to appreciate Shanghaiist as a reliable source of news that keeps them plugged into what’s happening back home, even as they study or work abroad.
many more who wrote in to offer words of support,
Without you, our readers, we would
never have been able to make it here today.
During this difficult time, our thoughts remain with the many fine individuals who formerly worked at Gothamist and DNAinfo, in particular with Jen Chung and Jake Dobkin, co-founders of the Gothamist network. Shanghaiist stands on the shoulder of a legacy that Jen and Jake have worked tirelessly over 15 years to build and for this, they can be proud. Going into the future, Shanghaiist will forever carry some of that Gothamist DNA with us.
Special thanks also goes out to our founding editor Dan Washburn, and to the many talented editors, writers, contributors, and interns who have worked with us, and left a bit of themselves with us over the years. After leaving us, many have gone off to have amazing careers at leading global media publications and organizations. We know you are still watching from the sidelines and rooting for us.
To our many advertisers and partners, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for standing by us.
And last but not least, an appeal…
In the next few days, we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign so you can help us continue to deliver the stories that you have come to love.
The events of the last week have impressed upon us the need to build a new model for the future, one where we can be completely free from corporate interests and commercial pressures.
With your support, we want to place you, our readers, at the center of everything we do — with more thoughtful, thorough and deliberative pieces.
We think that Shanghaiist’s work is important because each of the daily vignettes you find here often fit into a much larger picture of where China is going. Looking back, we’ve been overwhelmed to see the breathtaking changes the country has been through.
Conscious of the many echo chambers that exist around China, our commitment to you is in offering a more nuanced view of a very diverse, complex country that is constantly evolving — one story at a time.
Watch this space, and we thank you once again for your love.
Yours in gratitude,
Have anything to say to us? Email us at [email protected]