The sports blog that refused to play ball died Friday at the age of 14. Former Editor-in-Chief Megan Greenwell confirmed its passing on Twitter. Cause of death: Everyone quit in protest.
“And with that, it’s over,” Greenwell wrote. “Deadspin no longer employs a single writer or editor. I am gutted but so very proud of this group of people.
“Deadspin was a good website.”
Deadspin staffers resigned en masse this week after corporate brass fired deputy editor Barry Petchesky, one of Deadspin’s longest-tenured employees, because he refused orders to cease publishing non-sports content.
The website, which billed itself as “Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion,” built a strong readership in no small part because of its non-sports content. According to Petchesky, non-sports posts typically brought in twice as much traffic as their sporting equivalents.
That included its irreverent annual takedown of the Williams-Sonoma holiday catalog, insightful commentary on the media’s treatment of right-wing extremism, and once, in 2013, emphatically telling off Donald Trump.
By emergency decree, Deadspin’s last editor-in-chief was longtime writer Dave McKenna.
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood in solidarity with former Deadspin staffers. In a Thursday tweet, Sanders called out the private equity firm Great Hill Partners, which bought Deadspin and its sister sites earlier this year, wrapped them up under the name G/O Media, and appointed Jim Spanfeller as CEO.
According to G/O Media employees, Spanfeller ― with the backing of Great Hill ― is effectively dismantling the company in pursuit of short-term gains, a strategy Greenwell persuasively argues is leaving “hundreds of millions” of dollars on the table.
The business model is being repeated by private equity firms elsewhere. Hedge fund Alden Global Capital prompted open revolt at The Denver Post earlier this year, where staffers say the corporate owner is vacuuming up the paper’s profits in what’s been described as a “strip-mining” approach to management.