Sports-centered publication Deadspin may have been told to stick to sports. Deadspin, now owned by G/O Media, normally writes about sports, but its staff would frequently take any chance they could get to discuss politics, culture, and any other topic they could. But, this could be over as G/O is trying to turn the sites around. This included making former Forbes CEO Jim Spanfeller its CEO.
The memo, according to The Daily Beast, had Paul Maidment, the G/O Media editorial director, telling Deadspin staff to “abstain from stories that do not have an explicit link to sports.” Basically, he’s telling staffers to check what they write to make sure it’s not differing from what they are paid to cover.
“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,” said Maidment. “Deadspin will write only about sports and that which is relevant to sports in some way.”
The report also acknowledged that if the story ties into sports that’s fine, but it can’t falter from sports to other topics. This being because G/O Media has in their possession several other publications with varying fixations, such as gaming, films, technology, and more. This push was a major one, one that wasn’t beloved by everyone.
The chagrin of the staff
Former editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell expressed, among other things, G/O allegedly told the team to stick to sports back in August which led her to leave the company. She didn’t like that there was no guarantee of “editorial independence” and the prospect of sticking to sports wasn’t something she could “ethically do”.
Editorial staff complained the political content was some of the content that drove the site. They also complained in a post on Deadspin about autoplay ads. This post was later deleted that same day.
This change in focus is not surprising, G/O Media is attempting to make the series of sites profitable without the support of its own staff. Many staffers felt there were problems with Spanfeller’s involvement. Among other issues included floating the idea – but not pushing it – to have a sales rep with the editor-in-chief of Kotaku during interviews. Another thing that didn’t go unnoticed were the new hires which constituted mostly white men. Something a top editor at their black culture publication The Root pointed out.
A bad taste was left in the mouths of some staffers, though, as some of the first actions their new CEO did was can 25 non-editorial staffers across the multiple publications. G/O Media now owns all of Gawker’s properties including Kotaku, Lifehacker, The Onion, The Root, Deadspin, and more.
A decision was also made earlier this month where the left-wing political publication, Splinter News was decidedly shut down over a lack of monetary gain.