SI lays off half its staff after undergoing ownership change to TheMaven
About half of the staff at Sports Illustrated was laid off on Thursday as part of a massive purge by the company’s new ownership group, and SI staffers are not going down without a fight.
In May, Sports Illustrated was sold to Authentic Brands Group, and the group decided to sell the print and digital publishing rights for SI to TheMaven. TheMaven is a company run by controversial former LA Times CEO Ross Levinsohn and James Heckman.
Authentic Brands Group appears to have mostly taken over SI with the intent of making money off the company’s brand name, which helps explain why they licensed the publishing rights to TheMaven. TheMaven’s business plan was to dump most of the SI staff and replace them with “freelancers and bloggers,” according to a statement from former SI staffers.
Here is the note posted by a new Twitter account that was launched on Thursday in protest of the massive SI firings. Those working for SI believe TheMaven will diminish the quality of the SI brand name.
Sports Illustrated employees are concerned about the future of the historic brand.
— Sports Illustrated United (@SIUnited54) October 3, 2019
TheMaven had set up two different meetings but rescheduled them and finally met with employees to notify them of their layoffs. NPR media reporter David Folkenflik says half the staff was laid off.
NEWS: Management at Sports Illustrated just informed its newsroom in meetings that half the staff has been laid off, according to a person present.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) October 3, 2019
A number of SI staffers with whom you may be familiar tweeted on Thursday to say they had been laid off.
I was among the layoffs at SI earlier today. Tough way to end, but it was a great 4 years. I have too many people to thank in a tweet, but thanks especially to @SI_ChrisStone @matt_dollinger and @SI_MarkBechtel.
Now we’ll see what’s next.
— Andrew Sharp (@andrewsharp) October 3, 2019
After six years at @SInow, it's over. I can't begin to articulate the fun I had covering damn near everything: the College Football Playoff, Super Bowl, Masters, Stanley Cup, World Series.
This industry can be heartbreaking, but I don't want out. If you're hiring, I'm all ears.
— Joan Niesen (@JoanNiesen) October 3, 2019
I’ve been laid off as part of the purge at @SINow. If you need a writer, reporter, podcaster, please let me know. Any journalism job at all. I’ll work in the mailroom. My DMs are open.
— Tim Rohan (@TimRohan) October 3, 2019
Four years ago I first stepped foot in SI's newsroom. Today is unfortunately my last day as an SI employee, as part of today's layoffs. It's been a devastating day in the office, but I'm looking forward to whatever's next. And I'll forever cherish the people at 225 Liberty.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) October 3, 2019
It’s official: After six years, a lot of bylines, and getting to call the Orioles diarrhea in an article, my time at Sports Illustrated is over. If you have need of a baseball writer (or a writer for anything, honestly), please don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s been fun.
— Jon Tayler, Smiling Politely (@JATayler) October 3, 2019
After two years @SInow working the dream, I'm sad to say it’s over and I've been laid off. I'm so proud this was my first job out of school and so lucky to have been colleagues with these writers, editors and producers. If you're hiring or know of anything, please reach out.
— Charlotte Carroll (@charlottecrrll) October 3, 2019
A social media movement was launched in response to the firings. A “#SaveSI” hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter, launched by those who are concerned with the direction the new owners are taking the highly-respected company.