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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Deadspin writers quit in protest of new ownership group’s ‘stick to sports’ policy

Deadspin

A new ownership group in charge of well-known blog Deadspin attempted to enforce a “stick to sports” policy and exercise greater editorial control over the site’s content, which led to the site’s staffers quitting en masse on Wednesday.

Matters were set off on Tuesday when Deadspin editor and longtime staff writer Barry Petchesky said he was fired for “not sticking to sports.”

Upset over what was transpiring, several Deadspin staff members stated on Wednesday that they were leaving the company.

The website’s union posted the following statement in which they cited a lack of editorial independence as the reason for several staff member resignations:

One of the pioneers in the sports blogging field, Deadspin occupied the sports vertical for a group of blogs under the umbrella of Gawker Media. Gawker Media was sued over a Hulk Hogan sex tape they published in 2012. In 2016, it was revealed that the lawsuit was funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, who was upset with Gawker for outing him over his sexuality on their Silicon Valley-niche blog, and wanted revenge. Gawker lost judgments and appeals, went into bankruptcy, and was purchased by Univision for $135 million in August 2016. Univision later sold the sites to G/O Media in April, which is owned by private equity firm Great Hill Partners.

Deadspin became one of Gawker’s most successful blogs, where it separated itself in the sports field thanks to a talented and relentless editorial staff led by Will Leitch and later taken to another level under Tommy Craggs. The site often broke news and reported exclusive information. It later expanded its coverage to more than just sports, and in recent years, became more of a liberal/progressive magazine.

G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller apparently has been trying to steer the site back towards solely sports, which was met with so much backlash that the writers have now decided they will not work under such conditions. The staff members boldly stood together and walked out, drawing a line and saying they will not continue with such editorial restraints.

This matter had been brewing before coming to a head on Wednesday. After receiving a “stick to sports” memo by G/O Media on Monday, Deadspin posted several popular articles on the front page that were non-sports related to prove how successful and well-liked that content is by their audience. Spanfeller reportedly told Deadspin to remove a post on the site soliciting feedback of the site’s new ads, which were changes made under G/O Media.



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