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Philly's Chronicler of the City, Metropolis, Decides to Shut Down

In 2009, longtime Philadelphia journalist Tom Ferrick launched the website Metropolis. The mission for the independent, grant-funded online outfit was to "offer in-depth and investigative pieces, plus smart commentary and analysis." The focus was Philadelphia, its neighborhoods and the people who lived in them. The faith in the citizens was strong:

Through their unselfish acts, through their volunteer work and their political and civic engagement, they contribute in ways that reverberate far beyond their neighborhoods. Collectively, they serve as the soul and conscience of the Philadelphia region. They are its engines of change. This website is designed to serve these active and aware citizens, people who have a need to know what is happening in the region that affects them, their families, their neighborhoods and their communities.

Along the way, Metropolis offered plenty of coverage on the built environment. In particular, Metropolis was probably the first place to really explain, in depth, what the hell AVI was all about:

· Backgrounder: Setting the Value
· Backgrounder: All About AVI

There was so much more than those two, though. Check out the archives for more. Below, the full text of Ferrick's farewell, which accompanied the email newsletter with the latest issue:

This is the last email edition of Metropolis. The site will cease operations as of Sunday, Feb 10th. The reason is simple: I have run out of money. Like Blanche DuBois, this site has depended on the kindness of strangers. We were a cheap date -- our total budget runs $80,000 a year -- and we were lucky to have various local foundations and other entities provide financial support. With our latest grant running out, I considered trying to get another round, but decided against it. In order to grow audience, we needed to increase the frequency and array of stories and topics covered. However, that requires more money than I have been able to raise. The mantra is business is 'grow or die.' It applies to web ventures as well.

I consider this experiment a success, though. The goals outlined in our mission statement included producing in-depth stories and analyses to fill some of the holes left by the retreat of the mainstream media. A look at our last half-dozen Cover Story makes our case. These are smart, insightful pieces you could not read anywhere else.

As we said in 2009 Mission Statement: "... We surely won't be the answer to the demise of the traditional media, but we do hope to be an answer."

I am proud of the fact that we have been part of the answer for the last three years. And I would like to give a bow of thanks to our funders, our contributors and especially to our regular readers, who made the effort worthwhile.

The site will remain up for several months so readers will have access to our archives.

Tom Ferrick
Senior Editor