October 31, 2019
Deadspin staffers instructed to stick to sports, non-sports content ensues
by Ryan Harrington
“Stick to sports.”
It’s an idea we’ve become familiar with through Trump’s crusade against Colin Kaepernick, and have heard echoed by those angry sports fans who just can’t understand why athletes would use their enormous platforms to raise awareness for important social causes.
That was also the message that Paul Maidment, editorial director of G/O Media (parent company of Deadspin since April) sent to the Deadspin staff on Monday. The Daily Beast reports Maidment’s memo-decree as saying: “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.”
Of course, sports are essentially political theater and impossible to separate from broader cultural concerns. And even a sports-heavy site needs a little reality in its content every now and then, so the website’s staff did not take this directive lying down.
As Kerry Flynn over at CNN Business puts it:
Instead of heeding management’s mandate, staffers filled Deadspin’s homepage on Tuesday morning with non-sports stories that had been popular in the past, seemingly a nod to their argument that stories that are not strictly about sports have been favorites of Deadspin’s regular readers. Perhaps most telling among the selections was “The Adults In The Room,” an article published by former Deadspin editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell on her last day at the site in which she condemned the actions of Deadspin’s parent company, G/O Media.
Indeed, Tuesday morning Deadspin featured content like “Three Good Dogs I Met” and “Check Out the Wheels on this Pumpkin Thief” (gems you can still visit).
Sadly, the site’s acting editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky has lost his job in the crossfire.
Strangely, my favorite of these articles that could perhaps be called “protest pieces” actually does have to do with sports. In an article about a moonshot call by Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens that encouraged one of his players to draw an offsides penalty, Deadspin writer Samer Kalaf ended with the line:
Man, a team leader making the shortsighted decision to intentionally sabotage his employees’ situation for a slim chance at a small, ultimately meaningless reward? As an employee of G/O Media, I can’t relate to such a thing. The Browns lost, 27-13.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.