Tensions at G/O Media (the Great Hill Partners company that bought Deadspin, other former Gawker Media sites, and other former Univision sites like The Onion back in April) have now led to a firing, and to a widely-roasted statement from G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment. Monday saw G/O Media pull down a Deadspin post with G/O Media staffers complaining about the autoplay ads across the network, and saw a memo from Maidment leaked to Maxwell Tani of The Daily Beast that featured him saying the site should only cover non-sports topics “where such subjects touch on sports.”
Deadspin continued to run posts on politics, animals, entertainment and other non-sports topics Monday and Tuesday, and long-time Deadspin deputy editor Barry Petchesky (who had written almost 20,000 posts for the site across 10 years) then announced on Twitter that he had been fired for not sticking to sports:
Hi! I’ve just been fired from Deadspin for not sticking to sports.
— Barry Petchesky (@barry) October 29, 2019
The Gizmodo Media Group union then put out a statement on Petchesky’s firing:
Earlier today, @JimSpanfeller, CEO of G/O Media, fired our colleague and longtime Deadspin Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky. This will not stand. We will have updates soon.
— GMG Union (@gmgunion) October 29, 2019
And Maidment then put out a statement saying Deadspin had an “incredibly broad mandate.” Here that is, via CNN’s Kerry Flynn:
Statement from G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment on the backlash from Deadspin staffers, which led to the firing of deputy editor Barry Petchesky pic.twitter.com/qVywhOFTKK
— Kerry Flynn 🐶 (@kerrymflynn) October 29, 2019
As expected, that statement was roasted:
This is like buying The Cheesecake Factory and eliminating the entire menu except for cheesecake because cheesecake is in the title. And also because the rest of the menu wrote a brilliant piece meticulously detailing how shitty you are at your job. https://t.co/UimLqJgETx
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 29, 2019
Maidment’s past experience, as per his LinkedIn page, is at the Financial Times, Forbes.com, Oxford Analytica, and Bystander Media. All of those outlets seem very different from G/O Media, and it certainly appears that his time there isn’t going well so far, at least with staffers or with the general public.
It will be interesting to see where this goes. As mentioned Monday, the “stick to sports” idea here doesn’t seem to be about short-term revenue considering how well non-sports stories have performed for Deadspin, so it feels like a larger move to try and force the company’s writers into a specific lane. But that’s also bringing a lot of criticism both internally and externally, and it’s likely to lose them some traffic. We’ll see how it turns out, but it seems like there will be plenty of conflict ahead.
[Barry Petchesky on Twitter]