Deadspin has been given a new directive from their new managers: Stick to Sports.
Traditionally, Deadspin has written about sports, but also touched on culture, politics, and media issues. However, in a memo sent on Monday and obtained by the Daily Beast, G/O Media Editorial Director Paul Maidment informed Deadspin writers that they were to put their focus exclusively on sports.
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.
According to the Daily Beast:
Deadspin has often featured important politics and media articles, often in a subvertical titled The Concourse, and has poked fun at criticism of its decision to write about other non-sports topics, even selling “Stick to Sports” merchandise on its site.
But non-sports coverage has also often been a traffic-booster for the site. Sources have told The Daily Beast that, among other articles, writer David Roth’s political commentary often tops the site’s most-read articles, as has writer Drew Magary’s annual hater’s guide to the Williams-Sonoma holiday catalog.
The tug-of-war over Deadpin’s editorial mandate to stick to sports has been a long-running source of internal frustration and amusement for the site’s staff.
That frustration has turned into a revolt among Deadspin staffers.
On Tuesday, the day after the directive was issued, the Deadspin began posting several stories that had no connection to sports whatsoever. As a result Deadspin Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky was fired.
“Hi! I’ve just been fired from Deadspin for not sticking to sports,” Petchesky tweeted.
“Top postings on Tuesday included ‘Woman Furiously S—s on Floor of Tim Hortons, Throws it At Employees,’ as well as ‘What Did We Get Stuck in Our Rectums Last Year,’ and ‘The Hateful Life and Spiteful Death of the Man Who Was Vig the Carpatian,’ the New York Post reports.
Paul Maidment, the G/O editorial director who wrote the memo telling staffers to focus on sports, defended his company’s stance in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Yesterday I sent a memo to Deadspin staff stating that our sports site should be focused on sports coverage. As I made clear in that note, sports touches on nearly every aspect of life — from politics to business to pop culture and more. We believe that Deadspin reporters and editors should go after every conceivable story, as long as it has something to do with sports.
“We are sorry that some on the Deadspin staff don’t agree with that editorial direction and refuse to work within that incredibly broad mandate.”
The Writers Guild of America East, the union to which Deadspin staffers belong, issued a strong rebuke to G/O Media over Petchesky’s firing.
Earlier today, @JimSpanfeller, CEO of G/O Media, fired our colleague and longtime Deadspin Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky. This will not stand. We will have updates soon.
— GMG Union (@gmgunion) October 29, 2019
“The revolt comes as aggressive cost cutting appears to have dramatically improved the company’s finances. In early October, G/O Media said that the company actually posted a quarterly profit after laying off 25 staffers since Grey Hill Partners’ April takeover. On October 10, the company also abruptly shut down its snarky web site Splinter, saying it did not see a long term path to profitability,” the New York Post reports.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn