Deadspin's entire staff laid off

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2024 1:44 pm    Post subject: Deadspin's entire staff laid off!

Deadspin’s Entire Staff Laid Off as G/O Media Sells Sports News Site to European Startup

Sports news and commentary Deadspin has been sold again — and its entire staff has been laid off.

Deadspin, once owned by Gawker Media, became part of private-equity backed G/O Media in 2019. In a memo to company staff Monday, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller announced that Deadspin was sold to European firm Lineup Publishing.

With the sale, the 11-person staff of Deadspin was pink-slipped. “Deadspin’s new owners have made the decision to not carry over any of the site’s existing staff and instead build a new team more in line with their editorial vision for the brand,” Spanfeller wrote in the memo. “While the new owners plan to be reverential to Deadpin’s [sic] unique voice, they plan to take a different content approach regarding the site’s overall sports coverage. This unfortunately means that we will be parting ways with those impacted staff members, who were notified earlier today.”

Last fall, G/O Media shut down Jezebel and its staff was laid off after an unsuccessful attempt to sell the site. Jezebel was subsequently acquired by Atlanta-based Paste Magazine. G/O Media’s current portfolio includes Gizmodo, The Onion, The A.V. Club, Jalopnik, Kotaku, The Root and Quartz.

The WGA East-affiliated Onion Inc Union, which has represented some Deadspin workers, said in a statement Monday, “Today, the entire staff of Deadspin was laid off when the Deadspin name was sold to a different owner. Layoffs like this have become all too common at this company and in our industry at large. This is why we fought for the severance package in our most recent contract, but the Deadspin staff deserve so much more than that.”

Per Spanfeller’s memo, Lineup Publishing “is a newly formed digital media company described in their words as ‘dedicated to creating, acquiring and managing high quality media brands across a variety of sectors.'” Spanfeller added, “I do want to make it clear that we were not actively shopping Deadspin. The rationale behind the decision to sell included a variety of important factors that include the buyer’s editorial plans for the brand, tough competition in the sports journalism sector, and a valuation that reflected a sizable premium from our original purchase price for the site.” He didn’t disclose the value of the Deadspin deal.

It’s not clear who’s behind Lineup Publishing or where the company is based. The only information on its website is a slogan that says “Engaging brands. With heaps of character” alongside a contact form. The bottom of the homepage includes the text “San Gwann, Malta,” which suggests the company is based in the island nation located in the Mediterranean Sea.

A G/O Media rep referred inquiries to a PR email address for Lineup Publishing, which went unanswered.

In 2019, Spanfeller and private-equity firm Great Hill Partners acquired Gizmodo Media Group (previously part of Gawker Media) and The Onion from Univision to form G/O Media.

That same year, Deadspin’s previous staff resigned en masse in protest of the new management’s demand that staffers write only about sports. Spanfeller then hired Jim Rich, former editor in chief of the New York Daily News, to run Deadspin. Rich was promoted to editorial director of G/O Media before he exited in mid-2021 over his reported objection to “interference” by Spanfeller and other top company execs. In July 2023, Rich rejoined the company as Deadspin’s EIC.

G/O Media is “always actively reviewing our portfolio and operations to make sure we are prioritizing resources to best meet the needs of our readers and advertisers,” Spanfeller wrote in the March 11 memo to employees. “Although we are seeing some improvement so far this year on the advertising front, and I am cautiously optimistic this will continue, we are cognizant of the need to focus on the core sites we feel can best prosper in the current and future media business environment.”
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