Staff exodus at Deadspin after parent company mandates 'stick to sports'

The Independent

The Independent

Author 2019-11-01 04:17:52

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A host of journalists have resigned from website Deadspin - a sports website that often made forays into covering politics, pop culture and media - after a memo was sent to staff instructing reporters to only focus on sports.

The resignations followed the firing of Deadspin’s interim editor in chief, Barry Petchesky, earlier this week after he refused to comply with the “stick to sports” mandate from the site’s parent company G/O Media.

As of Wednesday, the New York Times reported that eight Deadspin journalists had resigned. Three more staffers, Dan McQuade, Dom Consentino, and Luis Paez-Pumar, announced their resignations on Twitter earlier today.

In the memo, G/O Media, which owns several former Gawker websites including Jezebel, Gizmodo, and Deadspin, said that topics such as politics, media, and pop culture should be left to the company’s other properties.

Though Deadspin does generally cover sports, non-sports content is housed under a section of the website called The Concourse.

In a statement shared by the Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani on Twitter, G/O Media said that in September “non-sports content accounted for less than 1 percent of page views.”

However, the Times, which was able to look at the site’s analytics, reports that The Concourse generated double the traffic of Deadspin’s other, sports-related verticals on average.

What has many scratching their heads is why Deadspin’s parent company would want to steer the site away from producing content that brings in clicks, and therefore cash. Deadspin's non-sports content was not only popular but often deeply reported journalism.

In August, Deadspin even published an investigation into the hedge fund that had purchased the Gawker properties from Univision, revealing how women and people of colour were shut out of leadership positions at the new company, and how G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller allowed several high-level positions to go unfilled for months.

Earlier this month, G/O Media shut down Deadspin’s sister site, Splinter.

G/O Media purchased Deadspin and other former Gawker properties from Univision in April. Gawker was forced to sell to Univision in 2016 in a bankruptcy auction after the site was sued by Hulk Hogan for releasing portions of a sex tape. Hogan’s lawsuit was bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel.

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