Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

What’s Happening at Deadspin Is a Travesty

Jeremy Gordon of the Outline, a website that I feel terrible for subjecting readers to as they have, for some ungodly reason, built their own layout engine which breaks scrolling but, hey, they can show those irritating animated squiggly lines, so that’s something:

For the past several months, the new owners have paid seemingly unique attention to diminishing Deadspin. Most egregiously was the request — long rumored, and made official on Monday — that the site “stick to sports,” in line with the completely facile line of logic that sports fans only want to know about the score and the game and not anything else. Besides the fact that sports themselves are frequently political, Deadspin also specifically flourished as an umbrella for topics often beyond the purview of straight sports. Its readers overwhelmingly responded positively to this, as verified anecdotally — is there a better writer on Donald Trump in this country than writer/editor David Roth? — and officially by traffic numbers published by former editor Timothy Burke.

Nonetheless, so the new diktat went, issued by men refusing to understand the websites they spent millions of dollars acquiring. On Tuesday, the staffers responded by only posting non-sports stories. They trafficked normally, of course, but corporate retribution followed a few hours later when deputy editor Barry Petchesky was fired for, in his words, “not sticking to sports.” Petchesky, who’d worked there for a decade, and kept the site running as the search for a new editor-in-chief continued — because who would want to work for people like Spanfeller and Maidment, or for a staff already trained to sniff out a patsy? — produced thousands upon thousands of blogs (and more) for Deadspin. Firing a highly productive, widely beloved, well-tenured employee as petty revenge sounds stupid, but I guess I’m not smart enough to be the CEO of G/O Media.

Molly Lambert:

RIP blogging we all tried real hard to make the internet good and then corporations and rich idiots destroyed everything a generation of writers tried to build.

Brent Simmons:

You choose the web you want. But you have to do the work.

A lot of people are doing the work. You could keep telling them, discouragingly, that what they’re doing is dead. Or you could join in the fun.

Again: you choose.

This isn’t even a question of economics, per se, as Deadspin — and, indeed, G/O Media entities as a whole — are profitable. Deadspin’s future isn’t in jeopardy because it wasn’t making enough money, but because a jury in Florida decided that Hulk Hogan was owed over a hundred million dollars because his public image was embarrassed, in a case bankrolled by Peter Thiel due to a personal vendetta against Gawker. The network of profitable sites was then sold to Univision and used as collateral by its private equity owners, which piled on billions of dollars of debt. Those sites were then sold to Great Hill Partners, another private equity group, which installed as CEO a guy who seems to hate everything about the sites, and who used to run the Internet Advertising Bureau — which might explain why all of these websites are now laden with garbage advertising.

All of this is to say that blogging is a format that is still very much alive, especially if you stretch the definition. But the most powerful people in the room desperately dislike the validity of independent and unconventional writing, and are doing all they can to dismantle it.

David Roth, Deadspin:

The work that those people do in those jobs touches the lives of many millions of other people; it can elevate and honor the dignity of those people’s lives or it can deny it for reasons relating to avarice or arrogance or stupid abject cruelty. It is not rude to look straight at this, and it is not wrong to be angry when and where it fails. There really is something that every person owes to everyone else, and it is not deference. Our leaders owe us more of that than we owe them, but the crowds do owe at least one thing to the people in the owner’s boxes. When they are wrong—when they dishonor us and themselves, when they are vicious and lazy and shortsighted and demand to be celebrated for it—we should let them hear it.

This post is about the U.S. President getting booed during Sunday’s World Series game — of course it is, because Roth has dutifully stuck to sports.

Of course.