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DCist archive online for at least a year following outcry of support

A screenshot of the DCist webpage that shows its current archive.
VPM News
A screenshot of the DCist webpage from February 28, 2024.

WAMU has made access to all published DCist stories available to the public for at least a year as it seeks a long-term home for the archive, the station announced Wednesday. The archives are available at

The decision follows a wave of public outcry from Washington-area elected officials, members of Congress as well as former and current staffers.

WAMU announced on Friday it would sunset and lay off more than a dozen staff members amid a reorganization.

The union representing content staff at WAMU, under SAG-AFTRA representation, has been especially vocal about the importance of preserving the DCist archive. Earlier this week, it released a public letter calling on WAMU and American University (holders of the station’s license) to “unlock DCist.”

“While you have shuttered that website, you owe it to our donors and our community to ensure that they will have access to the historical record that they have paid for,” the letter read in part.

“WAMU appreciates the feedback from local leaders, WAMU supporters, and residents of the DMV about public access to the DCist archive as a historic record,” WAMU said in a statement.

The station made access to DCist available to laid-off and remaining journalists in the days after WAMU shuttered the site on Feb. 23.

As part of its decision, WAMU has cited in press releases the need to “lean into audio excellence” and build out its audio programming, including a new local radio show and a mobile app.

“The decision to sunset was made as part of a new strategic focus on the station’s core strength in audio content,” Wednesday’s statement reads, echoing the sentiments WAMU’s general manager, Erika Pulley-Hayes, told Axios when the decision was announced last Friday.

DCist, which launched as a volunteer-led blog in 2004, became a professional news outlet before former owner DNAinfo shut it down abruptly in 2017, along with its sister sites under the Gothamist umbrella. WAMU relaunched the site in 2018, making it part of the station’s digital presence. In recent years, the site expanded to increase its coverage of regional politics, arts, food, immigrant communities, local environmental issues and its investigative reporting.

The public’s plea to preserve DCist’s archive comes amid broader concern for the state of local news.

DCist is the latest local publication to cease production or shrink its staff. In the past year there have been significant cuts at The Washington Post, particularly its Metro section, as well as at Street Sense Media.

WAMU leadership declined to comment on which organizations or individuals it plans to reach out to in order to find a permanent home for the DCist archives.

“Establishing an appropriate home for an historic record such as this is a challenge facing many in the digital media space, and we will pursue options over the next year,” WAMU wrote in its statement.

Editor’s note: Elliot Williams was previously a staff writer and is a member of the WAMU union. 

Elliot is a reporter covering arts, culture, and the ways the D.C. region’s history and its possibility intersect.
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