Editorial: Deadspin is Dead

“Hi! I’ve just been fired from Deadspin for not sticking to sports.”

“Just now I resigned my position at Deadspin today along with many of my colleagues. I have been here only five months but they have been some of the best of my career and I will miss it deeply.”

“I just quit my dream job at Deadspin. The last 11 months were the best I’ve ever had, and working with the smartest writers on the internet was a privilege.”

“I resigned from Deadspin this morning. That was a fun time you and me had there all those years, wasn’t it? Let’s do it again sometime.”

Those are just some of the tweets former Deadspin staffers sent out in late October after their bosses at G/O Media fired interim editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky. The site’s last editor-in-chief, Megan Greenwell, left in August because, as she wrote in a blog, the “ongoing undermining from (her) bosses made it impossible for (her) to continue to succeed in (her) job.”

As The Daily Beast reported, a leaked memo revealed G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment telling employees, “To create as much great sports journalism as we can requires a 100% focus of our resources on sports. And it will be the sole focus. Deadspin will write only about sports and that which is relevant to sports in some way.. …Where such subjects touch on sports, they are fair game for Deadspin. Where they do not, they are not. We have plenty of other sites that write about politics, pop culture, the arts, and the rest, and they’re the appropriate place for such work.”

That didn’t sit well with the editorial staff. After Petchesky was ousted, it didn’t take long for others to follow him out the door. Maidment himself resigned shortly after. Now without any writers and editors, Deadspin seems to be without any new content, and without any new content, there is no website, right? As of press time, the site was still up, but for how long?

Deadspin was originally founded by Gawker Media in 2005. You may remember how in 2016, Gawker was brought down by a massive lawsuit that forced the controversial gossip website to close, while its associated websites like Deadspin, Gizmodo, and Jezebel were sold off to Univision—that is until earlier this year when private equity firm G/O Media (then known as Great Hill Partners) acquired them. Right before the exodus at Deadspin, G/O Media had also announced it was shutting down news and opinion site, Splinter, due to “finite resources.” In addition to Deadspin, the company still owns The Onion, The A.V. Club, Clickhole, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, The Root, The Takeout and The Inventory. Will those websites see the same fate as Deadspin’s (or Splinter’s)?

I don’t know where those former Deadspin staffers will end up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started their own media company. They only need to look at the Colorado Sun, a digital news site covering journalism in Colorado. The Colorado Sun was created a year ago by Denver Post journalists who left the paper after a much-publicized rebellion took place there when more than two dozen journalists were laid off by owner Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund.

Colorado Sun editor Larry Ryckman reflected on the site’s one year anniversary with an editorial, stating: “We didn’t create The Colorado Sun—still 100 percent owned by its founding journalists—as a rebuke to our colleagues at other news organizations…But we can all agree that there are tremendous gaps in coverage that have emerged and desperately need filling. Colorado needs more journalism.”

In fact, we all need more journalism. Each time a news organization loses a journalist—no matter the circumstances—we are far less rich.

Nu Yang is editor-in-chief of Editor and Publisher. She has been with the publication since 2011.

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6 thoughts on “Editorial: Deadspin is Dead

  • December 3, 2019 at 4:15 am

    Really? The Colorado Sun covers journalism in Colorado, like a Brill’s for Colorado?
    Better to say it is a digital journalism site covering Colorado news than to say, as above, that it is a digital news site covering journalism in Colorado.

  • December 3, 2019 at 6:10 am

    So long. You won’t be missed. In case you haven’t noticed there is more than enough “journalism” these days. There is more than enough media sources that don’t stick to what made them what they are and have sold out for clicks. I wonder if people will ever be smart enough to figure out that the internet is what is killing journalism and brought us to where we are today. Doesn’t look like it. What these journalists did by quitting would be the same as going to sell cars for Chevrolet and then quitting because they can’t sell Fords. Seems like more of an entitlement thing than anything else. They were hired to write about sports but in the end, they just weren’t good enough to do it.

    • December 30, 2019 at 11:02 pm

      “They were hired to write about sports but in the end, they just weren’t good enough to do it.”

      This makes it clear that you never actually read Deadspin. They did excellent coverage of sports, including breaking some massive sports stories. The fact that they were also excellent covering politics, pop culture and so many other things should have been a bonus to G/O Media. Instead, they took a very successful site, told them to stop doing what they were doing (making great stories and a lot of money) and now are dealing with the consequences.

      Deadspin’s writers and editors will, and most already have, end up in great jobs elsewhere. Meanwhile, G/O now has a property that they won’t be able to give away.

  • December 3, 2019 at 6:29 am

    After a quarter century of trying, online news media is still finding its sea legs and, unfortunately, it seems obvious, by this point, that there is not much room in it for news, at least not general interest or political content. As much as cyber news staffs may lament it, media is a business and unless the news product they produce can deliver the eyeballs, and the eyeballs deliver the advertising dollars, there is no future in it.

  • December 15, 2019 at 8:52 am

    This site and the contributors were ahead of their time. It will be missed…

    • March 2, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      Yet another powerful company compromising a legitimate journalistic endeavor. America wake the F up, our Constitutional rights are at stake.


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