Deadspin is Burning

PedroKsBambino

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Hasn't it? If we are to believe the EIC at the time, as well as the financial releases of Gawker, it was profitable for many years, right up until it had a massive external debt dumped on it by a parent company. This is the flaw in your argument, you act as if Deadspin is Grantland, which admitedly was a loss leader from day 1. Deadspin was a key part of a highly successful self-sustaining business, and continued to be so until one of the associated businesses lost a massive lawsuit unrelated to Deadspin.

Imagine I sold Tacos in my friend's gas station, I sold tacos and made a decent little profit, the gas station also made a decent little profit. One day it turns out that my friend took out a loan secured by the gas station, went to Vegas and put it all on black. He lost, now someone buys his gas station in bankruptcy and declares that the taco sales will have to cover both expenses and a share of the debt. Does this show that selling tacos at a gas station hasn't proven it can work?
I have never suggested Deadspin is Grantland financially, and as noted before (and "missed" repeatedly by you?) we don't have enough visibility into how it's been doing financially recently to say either way. Though we are increasingly getting clarity that my initial comment about it not adapting to the environment is correct.

It is not clear to me the EIC would know whether its finances would work if it were a standalone entitity---as noted before (and also apparently "missed" by you) it's non-trivial to determine that for an entity with a bunch of shared costs and revenue streams. I haven't seen the breakdown you seem to have in your mind about how this is proven...feel free to link to it. I observe that the actions of both the editors and the owners right now are consistent with it not being very profitable---but that is just a distant assessment for sure, and I certainly don't rule out that G/O is a bunch of morons who are doing something self-destructive here. If the editorial folks really think it is viable financially on its own they should take a run at it and see what happens--maybe that will be shown to be the case and they can get the 'voice' back that some are missing plus make some money!

I have not made, or tried to make, any grand point about a model not working. What I've said is that the entity is not succeeding now and while you can dispute that, it does not appear they have any writers remaining to link to your creative analogies arguing otherwise....which should give you pause.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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This really sucks. I’m a big fan of Deadspin and like I said, it was one of my daily go-yo sites. I’m sure I’ll find another one, but I really dug this one.
 

nattysez

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If Simmons had any balls, he'd create a "Dead Ringer" mini-site on The Ringer platform, promise them full editorial independence, and hire everyone who just left Deadspin except Magary.
 

JCizzle

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If Simmons had any balls, he'd create a "Dead Ringer" mini-site on The Ringer platform, promise them full editorial independence, and hire everyone who just left Deadspin except Magary.
Why would he hire the people who shit on him all the time?
 

AMcGhie

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The entire ex-kinja network has done a lot of really good long-form across all of their sites. I hope these writers find avenues to do the same kinds of stuff.
 

Average Reds

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I’m rather shocked Magary hasn’t left. He of all people won’t have trouble playing his mortgage if he leaves.
Someone has to turn off the lights.

My guess is that he has contractual obligations that make his departure more complicated. That said, he joined in the subversive protest today - the title of his column was decidedly not about sports and included a gratuitous shot of a basketball being held to demonstrate his “compliance” - and I imagine we’ll hear that he (and Roth) are gone relatively soon.

From the funbag:

26518
Picture of a basketball included to signal that this week’s Funbag is sports-related.
 
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Jeff Van GULLY

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Most of it isn’t for me to tell. He was invited into my home and others that I love. I hung out with him, got to know him, saw him interact with those I love, in public and with ‘fans’ (yes, apparently he had some). I knew his reputation and gave him a chance to prove me wrong and unfortunately his reputation was mild compared the reality of who he is and how he treats women. He has blamed his behaviors on his various drug addictions—you may recall a pathetic attempt at image rehab a couple of years ago—but it’s a weak excuse for a weak excuse of a man.

Me and others who I love are still picking up the pieces from his actions. I can’t imagine I’ll ever see him again but if I ever do, he may be the only person in the world I would try to hurt physically at this point in my life; I’m a dad with two young kids.

Much of my old raging ways and the hotheadedness of youth is gone but I think he would resurrect those behaviors. I think it’s one of his only gifts: To get under someone’s skin.

The shame of it all really is he still has a small core of people who are loyal to him and are in powerful positions to one day help him land on his feet again. I hope it never happens but I’m hardened and pessimistic. Perhaps partly because of him.
 

SoFloSoxFan

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Someone has to turn off the lights.

My guess is that he has contractual obligations that make his departure more complicated. That said, he joined in the subversive protest today - the title of his column was decidedly not about sports and included a gratuitous shot of a basketball being held to demonstrate his “compliance” - and I imagine we’ll hear that he (and Roth) are gone relatively soon.
Magary also posted on medium today:


It almost reads as an apology for why he isn't leaving, at least today, with this one more specific comment:

But, on a grander scale, this is not a battle of reason. If it were, (...) Deadspin would be left the fuck alone
 

nattysez

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I’m rather shocked Magary hasn’t left. He of all people won’t have trouble playing his mortgage if he leaves.
He appears to suffer from a pretty wide variety of medical conditions due to his stroke. My guess is that he cannot afford to leave his current health insurance, which is likely paid for by Deadspin.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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He appears to suffer from a pretty wide variety of medical conditions due to his stroke. My guess is that he cannot afford to leave his current health insurance, which is likely paid for by Deadspin.
Why? Current health has nothing to do with the ability to get health insurance on the individual market.
 

The Needler

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Dec 7, 2016
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Why wouldn't it be enforceable? We're talking about a binding contract entered into by sophisticated parties - it would be a huge problem if the owners of a lifestyle website can ignore freely-negotiated contract terms simply because they don't like it, or it doesn't make them enough money. Think of the ramifications of that ... (plus they knew, or should have known, about all those details when they bought the company - no excuse there)

Let me put it another way: you keep hedging by saying companies should "comply[] with all laws and regulations" - but what "laws and regulations" could you possibly mean if "obey contractual obligations" isn't one of them? It feels like you mean, like, criminal law - don't murder people. But that's not even remotely the compliance required by a corporation (and, like everyone else, IAAL so that's the lens I'm viewing this through - I'm very interested to see how you're seeing it!). So can you give me an example of what laws and regulations you think should comprise the limits placed on them?
So much gnashing of teeth over the enforceable CBA. I’ve seen one no-context snippet from a disgruntled former employee that says very little other than decisions on what to post will be made by editorial “including the Executive Editor,” and that posts may be removed by a majority vote of the Executive Editor, the CEO, and the General Counsel. I haven’t seen ANY evidence that this provision hasn’t been complied with. I don’t see any “Executive Editor” on the Deadspin website, and it may very well be a corporate position, I.e., from whomever made the decision to implement the “sports only” policy. And removal seems pretty likely that the CEO and general counsel at the very least were on board.
 

The Needler

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And the idea that the writers or editors ever had or would have been given carte blanche to determine the direction of the site is just crazytown. The purpose behind “editorial independence” is to stop management from internal censorship of a story, not to be able to control the direction of the company. The board of directors, (i.e., the money) will ALWAYS be able to replace an editor that attempts to use such a provision to usurp true control. In this case, just from reading the alleged snippet of the CBA, if the Executive Editor did not want to implement longterm policy/strategy as determined by the CEO or ultimately the board, he or she would just be replaced by someone who will.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Why wouldn't it be enforceable? We're talking about a binding contract entered into by sophisticated parties - it would be a huge problem if the owners of a lifestyle website can ignore freely-negotiated contract terms simply because they don't like it, or it doesn't make them enough money. Think of the ramifications of that ... (plus they knew, or should have known, about all those details when they bought the company - no excuse there)

Let me put it another way: you keep hedging by saying companies should "comply[] with all laws and regulations" - but what "laws and regulations" could you possibly mean if "obey contractual obligations" isn't one of them? It feels like you mean, like, criminal law - don't murder people. But that's not even remotely the compliance required by a corporation (and, like everyone else, IAAL so that's the lens I'm viewing this through - I'm very interested to see how you're seeing it!). So can you give me an example of what laws and regulations you think should comprise the limits placed on them?
Since nobody has the CBA its hard to discuss what is and what isn't enforceable. However I think Needler is on point with his interpretation. The editorial control is meant to prevent management from spiking a controversial news story imo. But again, IANAL. It will be interesting to see if the union sues G/O but the mass resignations make it feel like an unwind of the business is what will happen next. I will keep an open mind if the union successfully brings an action based on what one biased party claims was standing.

Assuming you are asking for clarity in good faith, I will simply say this. I believe that if companies comply with laws (e.g. labor laws, environmental laws, disclosures etc) and satisfy their regulatory requirements (e.g. filing documents with their oversight entities and making public information available on time), those who own the business should be able to run it as they see fit. I gather you and others here think labor should have a say and while that would be ideal in some circumstances, that isn't how business works. I would also add that if a company violates a CBA, they are in the wrong and should pay for it. Its just not clear in this case that this is what happened.

Finally, I will simply say that Diana Moskovitz authored the best piece I have ever read on how leagues have and should handle domestic violence issues. I look forward to seeing her on a platform that deserves her talents more than a website that I felt became a sort of "Woke Barstool" or a Bleacher Report for sentient beings.
 

Alcohol&Overcalls

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So much gnashing of teeth over the enforceable CBA. I’ve seen one no-context snippet from a disgruntled former employee that says very little other than decisions on what to post will be made by editorial “including the Executive Editor,” and that posts may be removed by a majority vote of the Executive Editor, the CEO, and the General Counsel. I haven’t seen ANY evidence that this provision hasn’t been complied with.
Compliance and enforceability are two totally different things - I agree we don't know whether management complied with the terms (we also don't know the terms) but that's not DJBMHR's argument at all, which is why I asked that specific question.
 

The Needler

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Compliance and enforceability are two totally different things - I agree we don't know whether management complied with the terms (we also don't know the terms) but that's not DJBMHR's argument at all, which is why I asked that specific question.
Well, then, if that’s your concern, then I’ll just disagree with your statement That “it would be a huge problem if the owners of a lifestyle website can ignore freely-negotiated contract terms simply because they don't like it, or it doesn't make them enough money.”

As to whether it would be a huge problem, it think it would be a much bigger problem if an “Executive Editor” could unilaterally determine or alter the editorial direction of a website based on the terms of an employment contract, or even a CBA. For example, what if Ms. Executive Editor decided she was going to ignore Deadspin’s stated mission as a sports website, and would henceforth indulge her passion for horticulture, and dedicate all of Deadspin’s space to articles related to that endeavor? And let’s assume our hypothetical CBA unequivocally grants her that power? Fortunately, as you know, because YAAL, the law actually DOES allow the owners to ignore that freely-negotiated term, and opt to pay actual damages instead (this decision is sometimes taught as an exercise of efficient breach). And also fortunately, explicitly in federal court, and also under the laws of most states, a plaintiff like Ms. Executive will be required to claim that she has suffered an articulable harm for standing, and then prove damages — all because the VC said she had to stick to sports. And frankly, I like Mr. VC-firm’s position in that battle, both in our hypothetical, and also in our current and IRL discussion.
 

queenb

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Tom Scocca wrote I think the best thing Gawker or Deadspin ever published, an essay called On Smarm in 2013, which you can read as a defense of the "snark" the company was known for, and thus as a defense of the company's identity and place in the political and media landscape more generally. (I like it for other reasons, but it's clearly the basis for why it was written.) I can see why Gawker and AJ-era Deadspin rubbed some people the wrong way. When someone proudly identifies as brutally honest, it's fair to ask yourself if they're more interested in the brutality or the honesty, and where you came down on that probably determined whether or not you liked Gawker Media. I really enjoyed reading their sites and if there's any question what they represented, look at their biggest enemies over the years. (This NYT obit of Gawker also does a nice job summarizing the impact of the Gawker style/model on the internet writ large.)

Leitch-era Deadspin was popular I think because it managed to poke fun at athletes and sports media members without seeming sanctimonious or self-serious. But it also benefited from Gawker's renegade reputation while itself being sort of toothless, and then AJ gave it teeth. Whereas Leitch was trying to humanize athletes and media members, AJ tended to take it too far and arguably dehumanized the subjects they covered. The irony (?) is that Deadspin has become the smarmy outlet that its parent Gawker would have despised, and that earlier eras of Deadspin might have regarded as self-serious in a way that's alienating and would have mocked. A favorite dig of the old Deadspin was to accuse people of "moralizing" so if you look at what they do now...its political perspective is indistiguishable from the left-liberal consensus (but with swears!) and as such is in no way as indispensable to the discourse as its writers seem to think it is. There's nothing particularly responsible, constructive, or illuminating about youngish, urban, educated elites writing with moral certainty about things that in many cases are morally (or socially, politically, etc.) complex. (And David Roth is a great writer but he's been essentially re-writing his one excellent piece on Trump for like two years now.) At the same time, I really respect the writers who quit, even if it's over their political coverage that I personally wouldn't go to any lengths to defend. I don't begrudge those who didn't, but I can't help but praise conviction that's backed up by very real sacrifice, which leaving a job at Deadspin surely is. Even and especially if they just did it out of solidarity with their co-workers and friends.
 

Alcohol&Overcalls

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Well, then, if that’s your concern, then I’ll just disagree with your statement That “it would be a huge problem if the owners of a lifestyle website can ignore freely-negotiated contract terms simply because they don't like it, or it doesn't make them enough money."

As to whether it would be a huge problem, it think it would be a much bigger problem if an “Executive Editor” could unilaterally determine or alter the editorial direction of a website based on the terms of an employment contract, or even a CBA. For example, what if Ms. Executive Editor decided she was going to ignore Deadspin’s stated mission as a sports website, and would henceforth indulge her passion for horticulture, and dedicate all of Deadspin’s space to articles related to that endeavor? And let’s assume our hypothetical CBA unequivocally grants her that power? Fortunately, as you know, because YAAL, the law actually DOES allow the owners to ignore that freely-negotiated term, and opt to pay actual damages instead (this decision is sometimes taught as an exercise of efficient breach).
Remember that the specific comment I replied to questioned whether the CBA could be enforced at all - and my "it would be a huge problem ..." was about necessity of fighting breaches (by either side), i.e. enforcement. Of course the 'answer' is suit for breach (or whatever alternative remedy the CBA gives) - I was responding to DJBMHR's ideas that seemed to want to avoid even that, in the name of 'ownership control.'

I have no idea what proof of damage exists for hypothetical breach of a document I've never seen. I appreciate the disagreement with my insanely reductive "breaching contacts is bad" point, and of course it can be advantageous for a business to breach and accept the consequences. I was emphasizing the need for those consequences.
 

Alcohol&Overcalls

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Assuming you are asking for clarity in good faith, I will simply say this. I believe that if companies comply with laws (e.g. labor laws, environmental laws, disclosures etc) and satisfy their regulatory requirements (e.g. filing documents with their oversight entities and making public information available on time), those who own the business should be able to run it as they see fit. I gather you and others here think labor should have a say and while that would be ideal in some circumstances, that isn't how business works. I would also add that if a company violates a CBA, they are in the wrong and should pay for it. Its just not clear in this case that this is what happened.
I promise I was asking in good faith - and I do appreciate the last sentence there, that was the missing piece, as my impression was you were saying "damn the CBA, that can't/shouldn't be enforced because it limits ownership control," something that is more or less implicit in a CBA by its very nature.
 

The Needler

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Remember that the specific comment I replied to questioned whether the CBA could be enforced at all - and my "it would be a huge problem ..." was about necessity of fighting breaches (by either side), i.e. enforcement. Of course the 'answer' is suit for breach (or whatever alternative remedy the CBA gives) - I was responding to DJBMHR's ideas that seemed to want to avoid even that, in the name of 'ownership control.'

I have no idea what proof of damage exists for hypothetical breach of a document I've never seen. I appreciate the disagreement with my insanely reductive "breaching contacts is bad" point, and of course it can be advantageous for a business to breach and accept the consequences. I was emphasizing the need for those consequences.
Yeah, I guess I didn’t see it that way. My take was (and @DeJesus Built My Hotrod can correct me) that he (as a stated non-lawyer) was just pushing back against the idea that equity ownership was, should be, or could be (absent some very unusual situation not implicated here, e.g., through a trust) powerless to stop employees from taking their company in a direction contrary to what the board wants, and could or should be required to keep letting the inmates run the asylum. He said employers should be required to comply with the law (which I took to mean things like the ADA, Civil Rights Act, OSHA regs, etc. as well as contracts), but beyond that, the company should be theirs to control, and it would be troublesome if it were otherwise. And I don’t think he’s generally wrong about that. The situation is not too substantively different from a head coach getting fired, or Carly Fiorina getting shitcanned by HP despite an x-year, $y-dollar contract. Despite that agreement, you don’t get to keep running my team, corporation, website how you want against my will. As long as I pay damages, or fines, or whatever amount ultimately required by law, you have to go, and I get to run my company how I please. In legal terms, our system frowns upon specific performance generally, and especially in the employment context.

tl;dr EDIT: I think you were focusing on the legal definition of enforceable rather than a layman definition (make someone do something vs. require performance OR damages), but he’s not a lawyer.
 
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Alcohol&Overcalls

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Yeah, I guess I didn’t see it that way. My take was (and @DeJesus Built My Hotrod can correct me) that he (as a stated non-lawyer) was just pushing back against the idea that equity ownership was, should be, or could be (absent some very unusual situation not implicated here, e.g., through a trust) powerless to stop employees from taking their company in a direction contrary to what the board wants, and could or should be required to keep letting the inmates run the asylum. He said employers should be required to comply with the law (which I took to mean things like the ADA, Civil Rights Act, OSHA regs, etc. as well as contracts), but beyond that, the company should be theirs to control, and it would be troublesome if it were otherwise. And I don’t think he’s generally wrong about that. The situation is not too substantively different from a head coach getting fired, or Carly Fiorina getting shitcanned by HP despite an x-year, $y-dollar contract. Despite that agreement, you don’t get to keep running my team, corporation, website how you want against my will. As long as I pay damages, or fines, or whatever amount ultimately required by law, you have to go, and I get to run my company how I please. In legal terms, our system frowns upon specific performance generally, and especially in the employment context.

tl;dr EDIT: I think you were focusing on the legal definition of enforceable rather than a layman definition (make someone do something vs. require performance OR damages), but he’s not a lawyer.
I think your edit is exactly correct, which is my bad for sure. My point was entirely the bolded, so it looks like we were in vehement agreement.
 

jon abbey

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RIP DJ Screw. RIP Pimp C.
What's the connection? I am a huge huge huge fan of a lot of nineties Houston stuff but specifically both Screw and UGK, I have the first 329 Screw chapters and have had the tagline "Chad Butler taught me to keep it trill at all costs" as the main quote on my FB home page for a bunch of years now.

More importantly, sorry about all this shit going down.
 

joe dokes

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Jul 18, 2005
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Deadspin is officially done. That happened pretty fast.
Based on the descriptions of the initial meetings with the new owners, it seemed inevitable. Too bad. I enjoyed most of what I read across all the ex-Gawker sites. I certainly wasn't the target audience of a lot of stuff on Jezebel or Lifehacker -- and there was a sizable amount of "advice" that caused me to wonder about the future of humanity -- yet I frequently came upon windows that gave me a tiny, but valuable and usually enjoyable-to-read, glimpse into the world of my early 20s daughters.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Without Magary they're all done. That was fast. Magary will land on his feet, hell he's already done so with his other work. I wonder if he'll lead another site with these same writers under a different brand.
 
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Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I posted there for a while, yeah. I would take breaks as the smarm and anti-Boston-everything attitude got to me at times, but then I'd go back and pick and choose more carefully what to get involved in. I enjoyed it for a long while, for what it was.
 

Koji’s Slider

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I wonder if there is really a market for what a place like Deadspin, and other Gawker type sites do anymore. It feels like a a very 2013 business model that is slowly dying. Take a look at a place like Barstool and The Ringer, they don’t generate a majority of their revenue by writing, they do it by having interesting podcasts and personality driven events.

You have legacy media companies that break news like ESPN and SI(and all their problems) and I just don’t see the marketplace for a start up media company that has such a niche market like a Deadspin. I would be that bet that in 16 months G/O will go out of business.
 

dirtynine

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I haven’t seen Roth mention anything. Other than that, it’s pretty much everybody gone.

So odd to see the vampire site up this morning with no mention of the WS outcome, etc. I wonder how long it can stay like that.