Joe Ricketts, Nebraska native and founder of the online brokerage TD Ameritrade, decided in 2006 to buy a $29,2 million apartment in the Time Warner Center north tower. According to Capital NY, Ricketts later began bankrolling DNAinfo.com, a hyperlocal news site for NY. Just a week after the site went live in 2009, New York Magazine put it in the “brilliant” and “highbrow” quadrant. It has since been three years and coverage ranges from Flatbush to Inwood. The publication placed reporters in about every neighborhood in Manhattan and made hires in strategic citywide beats like NYPD and general breaking news.
Currently, the site seems to be thriving and logged 597,000 unique visitors in June alone and has a long list of advertisers, totaling about 150 in the first quarter of 2012. The site was started in the middle of a financial downturn for both the US and the media industry, and has been seen as a light admits all of the negativity. DNAinfo is planning on launching in Chicago this year. Many have asked, why is Ricketts doing this? He very rarely gives interviews, and just seems to take a sincere interest in preserving local news. A close associate of Rickett’s told Capital that, “He doesn’t go after anything that he doesn’t think will make money.”
In early 2008, Ricketts met with NY media professionals to decide how to run DNAinfo. In particular, he met with Rebecca Haggerty, producer at WNET, who was eventually signed on as a part-time consulting editor. Sree Sreenivasan, from Columbia‘s Journalism School, also met with Ricketts to discuss DNAinfo, and signed on later as a contributing editor. Leela De Krester, who attended the Columbia School of Journalism, was also eventually hired as the senior editor at DNAinfo. Currently, the site has 32 reporter-producers covering at least 24 neighborhoods across the five boroughs. Each reporter is managed by one of eight editors.