Tuesday I wrote that Deadspin’s employees seemed to be at war with the private equity firm that bought them, and other former Gawker sites, earlier this year. Well, that war is now over. With at least eight employees announcing Wednesday that they had quit, the site’s future now seems in doubt:
At least eight Deadspin journalists announced their resignations on Twitter, casting doubt on the future of one of the most popular digital properties owned by G/O Media six months after a private equity firm bought the company for an undisclosed price.
Laura Wagner, a reporter, was among the six staff writers — out of 10 — who quit. In August, Ms. Wagner wrote a deeply reported and highly critical story for Deadspin on G/O Media and its chief executive, Jim Spanfeller.
Joining her in saying that they had resigned were Tom Ley, the features editor, and the staff writers Albert Burneko, Kelsey McKinney, Patrick Redford, Chris Thompson and Lauren Theisen. (All but Ms. Theisen confirmed their resignations to The New York Times.)
“Firing Barry yesterday was a disgrace,” Mr. Ley said in a text message, “and the direction that management wants to take the site in is something I cannot get on board with.”
After the mass resignation, a spokesman for G/O media released a brief statement:
G/O spokesperson on Deadspin resignations: "They resigned and we're sorry that they couldn't work within this incredibly broad coverage mandate. We're excited about Deadspin's future and we'll have some important updates in the coming days."
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) October 30, 2019
Meanwhile, the employees union issued a statement condemning CEO Jim Spanfeller:
A statement about the resignations at Deadspin. pic.twitter.com/NrUmtHzZbq
— GMG Union (@gmgunion) October 30, 2019
All of this started Monday when the CEO of G/O Media told Deadspin employees that, from now on, everyone should “stick to sports.” That mandate didn’t go over well with employees and on Tuesday the site’s front page was a collection of non-sports related stories, some of them months old. The owners responded by firing a longtime Deputy Editor and things snowballed from there.
Barstool sports, which has often sparred with Deadspin, has been mocking the site’s implosion. Tuesday, Dave Portnoy offered the fired Deputy Editor a job…as his butler:
Hey @barry I will offer you a job right now. 100K. 3 year deal to be my butler. You have till end of day to accept
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) October 29, 2019
Portnoy also wrote a blog post encouraging two remaining holdouts at the company to quit, even offering to pay them six months severance if they would do so. Here’s Portnoy’s NSFW reaction to the news: “These people at Deadspin act like somehow it’s their god-given right to have these jobs and to do whatever they want to do. What planet did these people come from?”
Update: It’s not a complete story until this guy is wrong about it.
Even self-interest and greed don't explain events at @Deadspin. Seemed to be about hurt feelings more than anything else. The dudes with capital just could not get over the fact that the writers knew more than them about the property. So they wrecked it. https://t.co/KwcOC7LsyK
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) October 31, 2019