I’m so broken up reading this that I’m not sure I’ll be able to function again. I can’t decide whether to curl up on my fainting couch and sip a pumpkin spice latte while getting my scrotum waxed or to grab my comfort blankey and crawl under the bed and assume a fetal position. The entire staff of Deadspin has resigned after the owner of that wesite had the gall and audacity to tell them he wasn’t interested in their stupid and ill-informed takes on culture or politics and was very interested in focusing on sports journalism. Imagine the arrogance and privilege of a guy who sank millions of his own dollars into buying what he imagined to be a business enterprise thinking that entitled him to expect a return on his investment.
The entire staff of around 20 writers and editors at Deadspin have announced their resignations or otherwise left the publication in recent days, leaving the future of the popular sports website in question and signaling the end, at least in its current form, of a brash, iconoclastic and sometimes controversial blog that grew into one of the most influential voices in sports media.
The announcements, which started Wednesday and continued into Friday, arrived days after a new directive to publish only sports and sports-adjacent content was issued by chief executive Jim Spanfeller and editorial director Paul Maidment of G/O Media, Deadspin’s parent company. Interim editor in chief Barry Petchesky was fired Tuesday, and subsequently the entire staff quit, a stunning development that gutted one of the landmark online sports publications.
On Friday, the accomplished Washington-based writer Dave McKenna confirmed he had quit, leaving the site without any of its editorial staff, according to its former editor. A spokesman for G/O Media said Deadspin intends to hire a new team of writers.
Savor the butthurt.
“From the outset, CEO Jim Spanfeller has worked to undermine a successful site by curtailing its most well-read coverage because it makes him personally uncomfortable,” the Gizmodo Media Group Media Union wrote in a statement. “This is not what journalism looks like and it is not what editorial independence looks like. ‘Stick to sports’ is and always has been a thinly veiled euphemism for, ‘Don’t speak truth to power.’ In addition to being bad business, Spanfeller’s actions are morally reprehensible.”
Among other writers leaving the site was Laura Wagner, who wrote a lengthy investigative piece that was critical of Spanfeller’s management and hiring practices at G/O. Others who quit included Chris Thompson, Lauren Theisen, Patrick Redford, Kelsey McKinney, Albert Burneko, Luis Paez-Pumar, Samer Kalaf, Dom Cosentino and editor-at-large David Roth. Longtime editor Tom Ley also announced he was leaving the site.
I have to give Deadspin management kudos for patience. If one of my employees had decided to write an investigative piece about me, publish it on my site, and expect me to pay them for it, security would have had them out of the building before they finished clicking the “publish” button.
Screw these people. This is narcissism on steroids. After Gawker was put through the sausage mill, a new owner saved Deadspin from the dustbin, so to speak, and decided it wanted something that resembled a site that was focused on sports and could cover the subject professionally. Very few of Deadspin’s editorial staff were, at least to the casual observer, even vaguely interested in sports. They objected to the directive. They were given a hearing and told that their vision for Deadspin wasn’t paying the bills. So they quit. They aren’t martyrs to journalistic integrity. They are spoiled brats. The weren’t happy having a fat-cat job, getting paid good money for producing schlock, they had to tell the guy who owned them how to run his business and they felt morally obligated to heap insults on the guy who was signing their paychecks. F*** these people.
I’ve used this particular story several times over the years and it is very applicable here:
A long time ago, back when being an IBM salesman was a ticket to a very nice income, IBM ran a boot camp for salesmen. Each day started with the class singing IBM fight songs. One day, the top academic student was called into the office and given the bad news, he was out. He was stunned. “Why?” he asked. “I have the highest grades, the best evaluations.” Then they gave him the bad news. We noticed you aren’t singing our songs. We can find lots of smart people but we want people who will sing our songs.
There are lots of great sportswriters out there. Deadspin will assemble a new team and with the financial backing they have it is a safe bet that the site will succeed. If it doesn’t, it will at least be failing on the owner’s own terms not the terms laid out by a bunch of sniveling little snots who had made it through life so far by being woke and showing up for the participation trophy.
Hopefully, there is a trend developing.
Sites that were killed, gutted for $, or had big layoffs this year:
– Pacific Standard
It's hard out there, on the internet.
— Greg Greene (@ggreeneva) November 1, 2019