Block Club Chicago acquires archive of DNAinfo

Block Club Chicago

Block Club Chicago, the new subscription-based neighborhood news service, has picked up the assets of DNAinfo, including the extensive archive of stories created by the former hyperlocal news sites in Chicago and New York.

It’s quite a coup for Block Club Chicago, which acquired the treasure trove Thursday as a gift from New York Public Radio WNYC. The station obtained the assets from DNAinfo in February as part of a larger deal that included Gothamist and associated sites.


The archive contains 138,000 articles, including 78,000 generated by the staff of DNAinfo Chicago, starting in November 2012.

“We are incredibly excited to reconnect directly with the audience we built, reader by reader, at DNAinfo,” Shamus Toomey, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Block Club Chicago, said in a statement. “We are thankful to WNYC and the Gothamist team for this wonderful opportunity. We look forward to being stewards of the hard-earned work the DNAinfo reporters created, for many years to come.”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Toomey launched Block Club Chicago earlier this month with Jen Sabella and Stephanie Lulay. All three were editors at DNAinfo Chicago, which lasted five years before owner Joe Ricketts pulled the plug in November 2017.

Toomey said his organization is looking into ways to incorporate the strong brand identity built by DNAinfo over the years. They’ll seek to expand the reach of Block Club Chicago through rebranding Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Instagram accounts, and by reaching out to email newsletter subscribers.

Sabella, Block Club Chicago’s director of strategy who previously managed social strategy and audience growth for DNAinfo Chicago, said: “It is not easy to come into an established media market like Chicago and make a name for yourself, and the amount of work that went into making DNAinfo the beloved site it was among Chicagoans cannot be understated. I am so grateful for the chance to reconnect with people who have not heard of Block Club yet.”

Laura Walker, president and CEO of New York Public Radio, said in a statement: “We were thrilled to relaunch the beloved Gothamist brand with members of the site’s team . . . [and] we are equally excited for the original DNAinfo editorial team as they embark on their own new incarnation with Block Club Chicago. They have been warmly welcomed by Chicagoans, and we are delighted to provide the DNAinfo assets as a gift.”