Open File, the web-based online news site with six city editions, has been suspended temporarily by founder and CEO Wilf Dinnick in order to make changes to the startup, which is now two years old. According to a story on J-Source, while the "pause" surprised readers, regular contributors had apparently seen trouble coming. Dinnick would not comment on the suspension or on the likely fate of staff and contributors but maintains the reason he's suspending publication is because “we have to make that shift to where we want to have more participation with the public. And a slow transition probably isn't the smartest way to do it.”
There are currently six city editions for OpenFile: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. Each city has two people working full-time on contract – a city editor and a news curator. The organization also has two reporters on contract in Saira Peesker and Jane Armstrong who focus on suggested stories with a national focus, as well as an unspecified number of freelancers who work in the individual city editions.Apparently the changes being contemplated include more partnerships with other news organizations and more user engagement.
Dinnick said he has not run out of money, and he’s working on a new business deal “We're always looking at new ways and new partners to grow,” he said. “A small start-up, a CEO's job is always to be thinking six months ahead.”
When announcing him as the winner of the J-Source Newsperson of the Year Award in January, judges had praised Dinnick and OpenFile for its “innovative approaches to engaging citizens with local, public-service journalism in an independent environment.”