The massive Sports Illustrated layoffs last week created plenty of talk, especially given the details of how they were handled and the exit of editor-in-chief Chris Stone. Many former SI staffers have talked about what happened, including four on a podcast with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, but it’s also interesting to hear from those who are still at the company on what things look like going forward. Grant Wahl, a SI senior writer who’s been with the company since 1996 and also hosts SI TV’s Planet Futbol, appeared on Drinks With Binks (one of Julie Stewart-Binks’ new fuboTV shows) this week, and their discussion included talk about the layoffs and what he hopes the future will hold for SI.
Here are some selected quotes from Wahl, including his thoughts on the takeaway from what happened, what these losses will mean for SI, and what he hopes the future holds for the company:
“We are right in the middle of this right now and so I don’t have a ton of information yet on the full strategy going forward. I’ve been at Sports Illustrated since 1996, I decided as a kid after subscribing to it for years that I want to write for Sports Illustrated, and I was actually able to achieve that dream, so to me, the name Sports Illustrated means more than a job. I just want to see Sports Illustrated make it.”
“So last Thursday when the layoffs happened was truly terrible for the institution, and for a lot of my friends and really talented people who lost their jobs. So that part has been really difficult. And I want to do cool journalism, I would really want to do that with Sports Illustrated, so I hope that can happen. But you might have to check with me again in a few weeks just because I’ll have more information by then. It’s just, modern media, as you know, is unpredictable; it’s a difficult business environment. And I just want to see Sports Illustrated be in a position where…you know, it’s been around for 65 years it has this amazing reputation, and I want that to continue. And we still do have some really, really talented people there. So we’ll see where it goes from here.”
“We lost some really young, promising talents who I think are going to go on to do really good things at other outlets now. But that’s a huge stress for them early on in their career to have to deal with. And I’ve seen other places have big layoffs, you know, at ESPN and others, and I just assumed ‘Oh, that person is really talented, they’ll latch on somewhere and be able to go on.’ But what I learned was there are no guarantees in this business and some really talented people have to sort of grind and grind to try and find a place to work again. So it’s something where I hope this is the low point for Sports Illustrated, and that we can put ourselves in a position where not only are we doing talented, really good work with talented people, but [also] the business side is sustainable.”
The full episode of Drinks With Binks featuring Wahl will air on the fubo Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Oct. 11.