CHICAGO (CBS) — Three months after the popular DNAinfo Chicago website was shut down, some of its former editors and staffers have teamed up to start a new subscription-based site to resume their focus on hyperlocal news.
Editor in Chief Shamus Toomey and two other editors expect to launch Block Club Chicago in April, and already have reached their initial fundraising goal of $25,000.
DNAinfo focused on extensive neighborhood news coverage not provided by larger news outlets; from new restaurants and other businesses opening to crime, and from local school council issues to real estate developments.
“People like you let us know when we closed down that they felt value out of what we were doing. They missed us,” Toomey said on the CBS 2 News at 11. “We were providing sort of that neighborhood coverage that sometimes it’s harder to get from bigger stations, because we’ll go to the community meetings, we’ll go to the CAPS meetings, the Park District meetings in the neighborhoods. So the little stuff where some great news comes out.”
Block Club Chicago also has received startup funds from Civil, a blockchain-based platform supporting hyperlocal news operations across the U.S.
Block Club Chicago plans to charge approximately $5 per month for subscriptions, and will run as a nonprofit.
Along with Toomey, the operation will be led by fellow former DNAinfo editors Jen Sabella and Stephanie Lulay. It will be staffed by former DNAinfo reporters Kelly Bauer, Mauricio Peña, Alisa Hauser, and Mina Bloom; former Chicago Defender and Chicago Crusader reporter Lee Edwards; and a network of freelancers.
“Our reporters were really the lifeblood of the organization. They were night and day just really looking for a new story,” Toomey said. “So we decided maybe this is too good to just let go.”
Toomey acknowledged Block Club Chicago will be a bit smaller than DNAinfo at the beginning, but he hopes community support will help them quickly expand.