A mass exodus of writers at Deadspin continued on Thursday — as did a conspicuous lack of sports coverage on the troubled site.
Indeed, it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that Deadspin posted its first story on the Washington Nationals’ stunning World Series victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
Writers have been fleeing the site to protest a mandate to “stick to sports” after the site published a blistering story that accused the company’s owner G/O Media — which also owns Gizmodo, Jezebel and the Onion, and which is backed by the cost-conscious buyout firm Great Hill Partners — of hiring “older white guys” to run the site.
In the face of the sports-only directive from G/O execs, staffers have protested that Deadspin’s stories about politics, media, and pop culture are frequently generate more traffic.
Indeed, only new story posted on the site since Wednesday evening was a piece about a Jordanian pro soccer team by a freelance writer. In a farewell tweet, Deadspin editor David Roth said he posted it to guarantee the writer got paid.
Deadspin writer Drew Magary on Thursday was the latest to quit in support of deputy editor Barry Petchesky, who got fired Tuesday after he flouted the sports only edict and began re-posting a grabbag of odd stories with headlines like “Woman Furiously S–s on Floor of Tim Hortons, Throws it At Employees” and “What Did We Get Stuck in Our Rectums Last Year.”
“I resigned from Deadspin this morning,” Magary tweeted. “That was a fun time you and me had there all those years, wasn’t it? Let’s do it again sometime.”
“I just quit, too,” writer Dom Cosentino tweeted. “Deadspin was a good website.”
Another writer, Luis Paez-Pumar tweeted: “Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I just quit my dream job at Deadspin.”
“I should have quit months ago, instead of just now,” writer Dan McQuade tweeted, griping that Deadspin’s new owners refused to published his “Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt column” this summer.
“The last 11 months were the best I’ve ever had, and working with the smartest writers on the internet was a privilege.”
The battle for the soul of Deadspin, which was founded in 2005 by the now-defunct Gawker Media, boiled over Monday when G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment issued a memo ordering that all Deadspin stories be tied to sports in some way.
“‘Stick to sports’ is and always has been a euphemism for don’t speak truth to power,” the GMG Union, the local branch of the Writers Guild of America East that unionized Deadspin last year, said in a statement late Wednesday that took direct aim at G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller.
“In addition to being bad business, Spanfeller’s actions are morally reprehensible,” the union said.
Management fired back on Thursday, claiming the staffers contention that non-sports were among the most popular was not true.
“In September, unsurprisingly, 24 of the top 25 stories on Deadspin were sports-related while non-sports content accounted for less than 1 percent of the page views on the site,” a spokesman said.
“While amusing, our readers haven’t actually come to Deadspin for stories like ‘Classic Rock, Ranked,’ or ‘You’re Goddamn Right It’s Layering Season,’ or ‘It’s OK to Logoff.'”
The spokesman added that “our writers have a free hand to cover the intersection of sports and politics, sports and pop culture, sports and business, or, frankly, just about any topic even tangentially related to sports.”