this blog entry has been updated
It's official: OpenFile Hamilton is shutting down as of this Monday, November 21.
Wilf Dinnick, CEO of OpenFile, posted an editorial today in which he wrote: "With great sadness, after nearly a year of operation in the Hammer, I'm sorry to say we won't publish new content on the Hamilton site after Sunday's CFL game."
No new content will be published to OpenFile Hamilton after that point, but existing articles "will remain online indefinitely." Dinnick explained that OpenFile's readership has grown in every city but Hamilton, and that the fledgling news organization must "focus our resources where we are successful."
In an email to contributors, Hamilton editor Sheryl Nadler wrote, "Despite our best efforts to drive traffic - and we tried just about everything - we were just not seeing the amount of growth for which we had hoped."
Update: Wilf Dinnick responded to an email from RTH asking why he thinks readership stagnated in Hamilton when it grew in the other OpenFile cities:
We don't know, obviously. I would have loved to have given Hamilton another year to grow, but we had to be honest when we looked at the metrics. The message, for whatever reason, was that this was not working right now in Hamilton. One important part of running a startup is to ensure we are able to pivot quickly and shift our resources to what works.
I was walking on James Street North the other day, stopped by the Hawk and Sparrow, had a tea at the Mulberry café, visited Mixed Media, and I thought this is one of the many communities that would suit OpenFile. So we are a bit confused why we didn't get traction this time around, but we will try to learn from it.
We also asked him what he thinks needs to change for a Hamilton branch of OpenFile to succeed. He responded:
I want to be clear - this is not control-alt-delete. We are not taking down the Hamilton site. All the stories and user comments we've published over the past year will remain online. However, we are not publishing new content until we have a better understanding of how to proceed. We would very much like to be an active part of the Hamilton conversation again and to build an engaged audience.
Our success in other markets is telling us plenty about community and what works and what doesn't. We intend to keep tweaking that model to give the readers what they want.
We have an ambitious team and exciting plans for 2012. Unfortunately, we need to turn our attention away from Hamilton at this time.