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Deadspin Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky Fired Day After G/O Media Management Emailed Staff To 'Stick To Sports'

The top of Deadspin's front page after the staff was told to "Stick to Sports"

Deadspin.com

Since the site's inception, Deadspin has never been very concerned with "sticking to sports." While the former Gawker Media sports site broke plenty of major stories, and provided valuable commentary in the sports world, in recent years it has become as known for political commentary, media coverage, and a potpourri of other topics, all with its sharp-edged voice.

Deadspin staffers have said that posts like David Roth's commentary on President Donald Trump, and annual things like Drew Magary's hilarious perusal of the Williams-Sonoma holiday catalogue are among the highest trafficked posts that it produces. One could argue that it would then behoove the new ownership group, G/O Media, to encourage, or at least leave alone, those aspects of the site.

Instead, on Monday an email sent by G/O Media to Deadspin staffers, management effectively told the site to "stick to sports."

From The Daily Beast, which first reported the contents of the email:

In a Monday memo to staff, G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment told the employees of the site—which primarily covers sports, but also frequently writes about media, politics, and culture—to abstain from stories that do not have an explicit link to sports.

“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,” Maidment said. “Deadspin will write only about sports and that which is relevant to sports in some way.”

[...]

“Where such subjects touch on sports, they are fair game for Deadspin. Where they do not, they are not,” Maidment wrote. “We have plenty of other sites that write about politics, pop culture, the arts, and the rest, and they’re the appropriate place for such work.”

That last point was greeted with numerous eye rolls, as the email was sent 10 days after G/O Media shuttered its politics site Splinter News, so there really isn't a more appropriate place for that content and commentary.

Deadspin staffers were also angry about the deletion of a post in which they acknowledged the autoplay video ads on the site, and directed reader complaints to G/O Media.

That email address has reportedly been shut down, after the flood of reader complaints. It didn't take long for more fallout to come. This afternoon, Deadspin deputy editor Barry Petchesky, the site's longest-tenured full-time employee per former staffer Tim Burke, announced that he had been fired.

This has launched an outpouring of support for Petchesky, and further criticism of CEO Jim Spanfeller and G/O Media as a whole, from those still employed at the site.

Deadspin has been thrown for a serious loop over the last few years, in the fallout of the landmark Gawker Media/Hulk Hogan trial which lead to multiple firesales of Gawker Media Group and its properties, including Deadspin. Through a number of changes, the site has survived without really changing its voice or content in any major way.

This signals the end of that reality, unfortunately for those who valued what Deadspin brought to not only the sports media world, but the modern media landscape as a whole.