Order to ‘stick to sports’ has Deadspin site in open revolt
NEW YORK (AP) — Seven staff members at the popular website Deadspin quit on Wednesday as part of a dispute with management over its focus, a spokesman said.
The resignations come after stories were posted on Deadspin in open defiance of management’s edict that its staff members stick to sports coverage and set aside other topics.
“We’re sorry that they couldn’t work within this incredibly broad coverage mandate,” said Jeffrey Schneider, a spokesman for G/O Media, the company that runs Deadspin. “We’re excited about Deadspin’s future and we’ll have some important updates in the coming days.”
One staff member who quit on Wednesday, Kelsey McKinney, wrote on Twitter that “I have been here only five months but they have been some of the best of my career and I will miss it deeply.”
Another staffer who quit, Lauren Theisen, is already using Twitter to search for a new job and posted what she called her greatest headline ever, from the World Cup: “Purple-Haired Lesbian Goddess Flattens France Like a Crepe.”
Deadspin advertises itself as “sports news without access, favor or discretion” and is known for a blunt, irreverent attitude. It has regularly posted pieces on politics, culture and the media together with sports stories.
But management and staff members have butted heads since the financial equity firm Great Hills Partners bought Deadspin along with sister sites like The Root, Gizmodo and Jezebel earlier this year. Several of the sites were part of Gawker Media, which declared bankruptcy and shut down after losing a legal battle with wrestler Hulk Hogan.
G/O Media recently shut down the news site Splinter.
Megan Greenwell, Deadspin’s former editor in chief, quit in August after posting a long article about her disputes with the new company. “My colleagues and I know that most Deadspin readers do not want the site to stick to sports,” she wrote.
A deputy editor there, Barry Petchesky, tweeted on Tuesday that he had been fired for not following the edict.
Paul Maidment, G/O editorial director, wrote in a memo to staff on Monday that was reported in The Daily Beast that “Deadspin will write only about sports and that which is relevant to sports in some way.”
Despite the edict, Deadspin journalists appeared in open revolt. Posts on wedding dress codes , a stolen pumpkin and a staff member’s encounter with three dogs . The phrase “stick to sports” was mockingly attached to each of the posts.
A story by Ray Ratto, headlined “Nationals Fans Didn’t Stick to Sports,” included a statement saying “that this post doesn’t contain a heaping helping of political vitriol isn’t ‘sticking to sports’ any more than inviting the president to a game, playing the national anthem, “God Bless America,” or the flyover is sticking to sports. Nobody sticks to sports, ever.”
The dispute is also reminiscent of ESPN, amid a controversy over former anchor Jemele Hill’s tweets about President Trump, urging its personalities to train their focus on sports and not politics.