After watching Gothamist and DNAinfo disappear, this journalist built a tool to help others save their own archives
When Gothamist and DNAinfo suddenly shut down earlier this month, Ben Welsh, data editor at the Los Angeles Times, watched the conversations among journalists on Twitter. Not only was all that coverage gone, but the journalists now out of work and looking for jobs wouldn't have anything to show from their time there.
"I saw that happen, and what I saw was a lot of individual reporters and editors suddenly waking up to the fragility of their own work," he said.
The archives came back online the next day, but their disappearance overlapped with something Welsh has worked on before – news archiving.
He previously created pastpages.org, which archives screenshots of news homepages every hour. And after seeing, again, how quickly work can be lost on the internet, he saw an opportunity to help.
He thought: "What if we designed an internet archive with a different use case in mind?"
Sites such as Internet Archive scrape the web and save what's there for everyone to see. Welsh wanted to build a way for journalists to save their own work for themselves.
— Sign in using Twitter.
— Paste a link of one of your clips.
— The site archives your story on Internet Archive and webcitation.org. Savemy.news creates a private list for you with your clips.
So far, Welsh said, hundreds of links have been saved.
For him, raising awareness about saving your own work is just as important as the tool itself. Savemy.news is really just a pass-through to bigger archive sites. And in case his site goes down, you can download your list to see what you've saved, when you saved it and where you can find it.
"You really should do your future self a favor and spend an hour or two going and copying the links to all the things you care about and pasting them in this simple box," Welsh said.
And making PDFs of your work or even printing out copies and saving them somewhere isn't a bad idea either, he said.
Seeing DNAinfo and Gothamist go down, even if only for a day, is a good reminder that journalists can't assume the web equals permanence. And it doesn't take an owner who's done with the news business for you to lose everything. A new CMS or website migration could wipe everything out, too, he said.
"If you don’t take care of your stuff, there’s no guarantee."