G/O Media is the company that owns the Onion and also the former Gawker properties including Deadspin. You may recall that back in October there was a mass resignation at Deadspin after management asked employees to stick to sports. By early November, nearly the entire staff of the site had resigned.
Today, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller issued a memo stating that he plans to relaunch Deadspin but instead of doing so in New York where the site was formerly located, it will be relocated to Chicago. The letter says employees who wish to return in New York could be allowed back but it sounds as if G/O Media is making a move to cut Deadspin off from its former employees.
Spanfeller also said he will no longer negotiate with the writer’s union over proposals which he said were unreasonable. “In terms of modifications to the Gizmodo collective bargaining agreement’s editorial independence provisions, we believe we have reached a point where our discussions are no longer productive and as such, we will not engage in further discussions on this topic,” the letter said.
“The further revisions you seek are designed not to protect the integrity of reporting, but to place virtually full operational control of the brands in control of the bargaining unit. For example, your request to give the staff veto power over who might be hired as their boss goes far outside the norms of the media industry. Your unreasonable and unprecedented demands are not in the best interests of the company and would inhibit our ability to successfully operate our websites for the benefit of our readers…”
The letter also criticizes the former employees for targeting replacement writers the company attempted to hire: “We have seen at least one extremely public example of a freelance writer being harassed incessantly—to the point that the individual refused to work for Deadspin further.” The letter adds that this appears to be an effort to dissuade anyone from taking a job at Deadspin, which of course it is. In fact, it’s pretty standard union operating procedure to hound “scab” workers. In this case, I’m not sure what the point is since most of the previous staff quit.
The union published a response to Spanfeller’s letter today. It reads in part, “Moving Deadspin to Chicago will not solve the problem that Jim never understood Deadspin, and did everything in his power to kill it. The members of this bargaining unit vehemently object to this decision.”
It sort of reads like a letter from a teen runaway: “You never understood me!” Maybe so, but they did own the company which does matter in the real world.
Obviously there’s no love lost on either side. Maybe with the site moving to Chicago, everyone involved can just move on with their lives. Here’s the full letter from G/O Media:
News: G/O Media is moving Deadspin to Chicago and suspending negotiations with unionized employees. Here's the letter from Jim Spanfeller. pic.twitter.com/x3ymCOCbmI
— Ben Mullin (@BenMullin) January 10, 2020
Update: Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports is offering to take Deadspin off G/O Media’s hands:
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) January 10, 2020