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.