Deadspin is Burning

OurF'ingCity

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A central (the central?) idea of our country's founding is that a fully functioning media is a necessary prerequisite for picking leaders by popular vote. The corporatization of speech on a mass scale is, to me, the second most* existential problem we face in the next generation or two. If looking for a root cause of our current political situation, you could do worse than to identify it as the top factor -- and it's certainly no lower than top 3. People can't seem to be able to put to the side their micro issues about Deadspin -- whether it's viewing this story based on what one thought of the content or Portnoy rejoicing at the death of a rival -- long enough to see the big picture. Which seems to be that we're royally fucked.
Not to go off on a tangent, but this strikes me as massively hyperbolic. In the sports realm, even if you just looked at nothing other than ESPN.com, Barstool, the Athletic, and the Ringer, you'd be able to get more content - of varying styles, with varying target audiences, and with varying points of view - in a single day then someone 50 years ago could get over the course of an entire year. The same is true arguably to an even greater degree for "hard" news. Not sure how you could say that somehow we don't have a "fully functioning media."

Losing Deadspin is not some sign of the times - it's the result of a pretty specific set of circumstances, most notably, the Hulk Hogan lawsuit. I'm not sure you can really extrapolate that to any other outlet given the overall thriving nature of Internet sports commentary at the moment. This is basically the Internet equivalent of a beloved local restaurant going out of business because the landlord raised the rents - it sucks and people have a right to be pissed, frustrated, and annoyed, but eventually people will move on and find new things to like/read/etc.
 

shlincoln

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Losing Deadspin is not some sign of the times - it's the result of a pretty specific set of circumstances, most notably, the Hulk Hogan lawsuit. I'm not sure you can really extrapolate that to any other outlet given the overall thriving nature of Internet sports commentary at the moment. This is basically the Internet equivalent of a beloved local restaurant going out of business because the landlord raised the rents - it sucks and people have a right to be pissed, frustrated, and annoyed, but eventually people will move on and find new things to like/read/etc.
The series of events that got Deadspin to this point are unique, but what's happening to it is not. Brian Curtis at The Ringer tied it into what's going on at SI and other news outlets around the country.
 

kenneycb

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How do you feel about pictures of the Yankee Stadium bleachers?
Yankee fans aren’t people.

But in a somewhat serious note, they’re fun to make fun of. I don’t pretend to make judgment on them as real people based on who they cheer fo me in baseball.
 

kenneycb

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The series of events that got Deadspin to this point are unique, but what's happening to it is not. Brian Curtis at The Ringer tied it into what's going on at SI and other news outlets around the country.
It’s happening to traditional media. The internet has removed a stupid amount of friction for people to get news. It used to be a bunch of old white guys that told you what news was worthy. Hence the plight of minorities have been significantly underreported.
I haven't read everything there is to read about Deadspin's collapse, obviously, but most of the discussion I have seen seems a bit micro, when the real story to me seems to be macro.

I think it's probably the case that most people who care had already concluded that, contrary to everyone's expectations even just a year or two ago, the Internet is not going to be an antidote for corporate ownership of print and tv media. I've been holding out hope that it would be, but I think the Deadspin events over the last week make clear that it's time to put a fork in that idea.

A central (the central?) idea of our country's founding is that a fully functioning media is a necessary prerequisite for picking leaders by popular vote. The corporatization of speech on a mass scale is, to me, the second most* existential problem we face in the next generation or two. If looking for a root cause of our current political situation, you could do worse than to identify it as the top factor -- and it's certainly no lower than top 3. People can't seem to be able to put to the side their micro issues about Deadspin -- whether it's viewing this story based on what one thought of the content or Portnoy rejoicing at the death of a rival -- long enough to see the big picture. Which seems to be that we're royally fucked.

*Global warming.
You legitimately have this 100% backwards. The Internet has democratized speech. The press has always been corporatized. Previously it was a bunch of old white men in a room deciding what was “fit for print”. Now anyone has a platform. That’s good in theory. That also means a bunch of the fringe realizes they’re not the fringe. Communities can get built from that. Some of those communities are good (e.g., cops keep shooting minorities...why wasn’t that news NYT, WSJ, etc,?). Some of that is bad (e.g., 4Chan). Corporatization has some piece in this but you are grossly overstating it and ignoring the ease in which communities can now form that cut out the media.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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It’s happening to traditional media. The internet has removed a stupid amount of friction for people to get news. It used to be a bunch of old white guys that told you what news was worthy. Hence the plight of minorities have been significantly underreported.

You legitimately have this 100% backwards. The Internet has democratized speech. The press has always been corporatized. Previously it was a bunch of old white men in a room deciding what was “fit for print”. Now anyone has a platform. That’s good in theory. That also means a bunch of the fringe realizes they’re not the fringe. Communities can get built from that. Some of those communities are good (e.g., cops keep shooting minorities...why wasn’t that news NYT, WSJ, etc,?). Some of that is bad (e.g., 4Chan). Corporatization has some piece in this but you are grossly overstating it and ignoring the ease in which communities can now form that cut out the media.
This. I don't understand how anyone can romanticize the days where there were a few very concentrated media outlets with a specific brand/agenda which was largely sponsored by corporate America and their lackeys in congress.

The result was that stories about powerful people who were abusing those around them and/or breaking laws in a variety of vile ways were either never covered or spiked before they saw the light of day. Now, these people are getting taken down as information becomes more and more "free". Its not perfect and as others have observed, misguided management teams with agendas away from revealing truths can still impact what is published.

But you are spot on - those who never had a platform before now, at least, potentially have a bullhorn of sorts.

Also, lets not get it twisted. I too enjoyed Deadspin and some of their content was actual reporting. However the majority of it was snarky opinion pieces. I don't doubt that the writers who resigned enjoyed working there and with each other but I am kind of taken aback at their perception - as well that of some posters here - of what sort of site Deadspin was. It wasn't news and it wasn't sports. It was mostly entertainment and imho, there was far more noise than signal to most of their content.
 

Reverend

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A look at the numbers (there are caveats in the piece, but I’m not quoting the whole thing, just the central claims on the numbers):
If a hair less than 1 in 25 of the stories Deadspin published in September were non-sports related, and non-sports stories performed as well as sports stories, it follows that the most likely outcome is that only 1 of the top 25 stories by page views in September would be a non-sports story. And ... that’s what happened: David Roth’s column on Donald Trump, “This Guy Truly Has No Idea What He’s Talking About” is the 12th best-performing story Deadspin published that month, with 313,000 page views.

So while G/O Media’s claim that 24 of its top 25 stories were sports stories sounds to an untrained ear like a killer stat, it’s exactly what you’d expect if there was no difference between the performance of sports and non-sports coverage.

. . .

What about G/O Media’s claim that less than 1% of Deadspin’s traffic in September came from non-sports stories?

I totaled the traffic to all of the stories Deadspin published in September: 41,404,600 page views. Of those, 1,629,800 were to those 18 non-sports stories.

No need to get the calculators out — that’s 3.9% of their total traffic to stories from 3.5% of their stories. The average non-sports story got 90,500 page views, which is 10,000 more than the average sports story.
 

BroodsSexton

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But what if the whole point was to kill the predominant viewpoint, not the fact of “non news stories,” themselves?

Now can we call them douchebros and make Smirnoff Ice jokes?
 

nayrbrey

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Leitch posted his thoughts in his weekly newsletter:
“What happened this week, considering the way that staff was treated, was inevitable: There are newsrooms out there you can jerk around and screw with and get them to roll over, but Deadspin’s was never, ever going to be one of them. That staff went out fighting. They went out like warriors.“
 
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Danny_Darwin

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Kotaku doesn't really stick to games, but their games posts are tagged as such, for people who only want to read about games.

(... which is something Deadspin could've done too, if ownership hadn't decided to strangle the baby after pissing in the bathwater.)
I don't read every single post, but don't they usually do the thing that the G/O people wanted Deadspin to do, which is connect whatever they're writing to games, even if just for appearances? But I guess they also cover toys and some other gaming-adjacent cultural stuff.
 

phrenile

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I don't read every single post, but don't they usually do the thing that the G/O people wanted Deadspin to do, which is connect whatever they're writing to games, even if just for appearances? But I guess they also cover toys and some other gaming-adjacent cultural stuff.
No. There's plenty of content that has nothing to do with gaming but appeals to an overlapping demographic (Kotakueast stuff, anime, cosplay, etc.).
 

InstaFace

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Leitch posted his thoughts in his weekly newsletter:
“What happened this week, considering the way that staff was treated, was inevitable: There are newsrooms out there you can jerk around and screw with and get them to roll over, but Deadspin’s was never, ever going to be one of them. That staff went out fighting. They went out like warriors.“
Man, what a pull that image was. Read that article in the image, if you can zoom in:

 

dirtynine

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So after that one freelancer got piled on and pulled back, I don’t think the site is using bylines any more. Probably not going to attract much talent (from the already reduced pool that might have submitted anyway) with that policy.
 

Kliq

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Leitch posted his thoughts in his weekly newsletter:
“What happened this week, considering the way that staff was treated, was inevitable: There are newsrooms out there you can jerk around and screw with and get them to roll over, but Deadspin’s was never, ever going to be one of them. That staff went out fighting. They went out like warriors.“
God, Leitch is such a prick. Corporate ownership, budget cuts, lay-offs and administrative meddling is something that news rooms across the country have to deal with; except for many of those staffs, they have families to take care of debts to pay off, so they have to stick it out. Because some people at Deadspin are successful enough to go agro and burn their bridges with the company and still hope to land on their feet, that doesn't make them any better or "warriors" than other newsrooms. I know he is just sticking up for his colleagues, but that is such a dick comment.
 

Snedds

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So after that one freelancer got piled on and pulled back, I don’t think the site is using bylines any more. Probably not going to attract much talent (from the already reduced pool that might have submitted anyway) with that policy.
Who knows if that's going to be their policy going forward, but it looks like they're using the "Deadspin" byline to try and hide the fact that Paul Maidment is having to write these blogs himself
View: https://twitter.com/kevinmdraper/status/1190713088145842177
 

Mooch

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Now that Paul Maidment has resigned, is Spanfeller going to create content as the only Deadspin employee? I'm ready for it.
 

ngruz25

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Zombie Deadspin has had some fascinating content in the last couple days. The limp, possibly-robot authored generic sports headlines without attribution are the journalistic equivalent of jiggling your mouse to make sure the computer screen doesn't go to sleep.

And now even that is dead! The entire Deadspin staff resigned, en masse, again!
 

PedroKsBambino

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Slate has an interesting roundtable with Greenwell, Petchesky, and Ley.

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/deadspin-roundtable-barry-petchesky-megan-greenwell-tom-ley.html

One thing I take away is that while in the bigger picture the G/O team is clearly lost here--they just set fire to the asset and totally failed to engage the editors---the Deadspin team does nothing to look good either. The net of their approach was "G/O bought us and is wrong about everything, so we'll keep telling them so until they get it" Now, many here may feel they are in fact correct (I don't know that I disagree) but I think most of us who have had bosses also know that isn't how you succeed with a new one, either
 

joe dokes

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Slate has an interesting roundtable with Greenwell, Petchesky, and Ley.

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/deadspin-roundtable-barry-petchesky-megan-greenwell-tom-ley.html

One thing I take away is that while in the bigger picture the G/O team is clearly lost here--they just set fire to the asset and totally failed to engage the editors---the Deadspin team does nothing to look good either. The net of their approach was "G/O bought us and is wrong about everything, so we'll keep telling them so until they get it" Now, many here may feel they are in fact correct (I don't know that I disagree) but I think most of us who have had bosses also know that isn't how you succeed with a new one, either
The bolded is undeniably true. We've all been there, and for various reasons stayed there. But, here, the handwriting was on the wall from Day 1. [hyperbole] It was like new people bought the Globe and said "this is what we want to be like" and held up a copy of the Weekly World News. [/hyperbole]

Fatsis, IIRC, had a cup of coffee in the NFL and wrote some pieces for Deadspin.
 
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PedroKsBambino

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I really don't understand what G/O's theory here was at all. In the article Greenwell mentions the strategy as being a "one stop site for sports" however, if that is really the goal it seems totally crazy to me. So, G/O set fire to an asset (possibly a significant asset) in pursuit of a strategy that may well have been idiotic, and which even if it were reasonable would be helped by having the audience of the asset?

I said earlier in the thread this feels like a lose-lose outcome and that only feels more true the more I read here. I don't get the editors picture of how they were creating a better situation for themselves, and I don't get G/Os strategy or how they thought this approach to the editors would get them there.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I don't get the editors picture of how they were creating a better situation for themselves, and I don't get G/Os strategy or how they thought this approach to the editors would get them there.
That's my thought process too. G/O is dumb by coming in and trying to fix something that wasn't broken and the editors didn't react well to this edict either. Having said that, I'm not sure what the editors could have done better. Maybe they needed to throw a public shit fit. But, like I said before, that is incredibly short-sighted.

This whole ordeal was like two blind guys slap fighting on a football field.
 

Spacemans Bong

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I really don't understand what G/O's theory here was at all. In the article Greenwell mentions the strategy as being a "one stop site for sports" however, if that is really the goal it seems totally crazy to me. So, G/O set fire to an asset (possibly a significant asset) in pursuit of a strategy that may well have been idiotic, and which even if it were reasonable would be helped by having the audience of the asset?

I said earlier in the thread this feels like a lose-lose outcome and that only feels more true the more I read here. I don't get the editors picture of how they were creating a better situation for themselves, and I don't get G/Os strategy or how they thought this approach to the editors would get them there.
David Roth talked about it on Chapo Trap House today in depth, and the takeaway for me was just utter befuddlement at what Spanfeller was trying to do.

It wasn’t profit maximisation — nobody trying to do that cans non-sports posts. It wasn’t political — practically the last post up on Deadspin was Roth shitting on the President, which he’s done with regularity since G/O bought the place. Roth mentioned he’s pretty sure Spanfeller isn’t conservative. The Onion doesn’t seem to have been censored by G/O. Roth’s in his 40s so he’s a little less prone to freaking out about the jerky boss, but he felt he just couldn’t get a handle on what this guy wanted that made any sense to him — except Spanfeller literally thinking his ideas have more merit and are better because he’s the rich private equity guy instead of some schnook that has to write blog posts for a living. And as we’ve noted, his ideas are wildly out of date, bordering on fraud and not very profitable if you look pass the performance clauses and what you could realistically get. I think Roth mentioned a video advertisement deal that would pay Deadspin a million bucks if their videos something like 16 times the traffic they do now. It’s insane.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Reductress has severed ties with The Onion in light of this.

There are a lot of other platforms that may wind up getting gutted/closed down, including The Onion:

Gizmodo, The Root, Jezebel, Kotaku, The A/V Club, Clickhole, The Takeout, Jalopnik, Lifehacker...
 

Spacemans Bong

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Oh, and I think this is important, Roth said the problems started pretty much as soon as G/O took over (by the way, Paul Maidment’s just quit so possibly this is G/O realizing they’ve badly fucked this up). So I think it puts a slightly different spin on things. They’ve been dealing with utter nonsense from their bosses for six months now — I think it’s clearer that Greenwell and the rest of the editors didn’t just up sticks in a fit of pique the first time G/O said something stupid.
 

joe dokes

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Oh, and I think this is important, Roth said the problems started pretty much as soon as G/O took over (by the way, Paul Maidment’s just quit so possibly this is G/O realizing they’ve badly fucked this up). So I think it puts a slightly different spin on things. They’ve been dealing with utter nonsense from their bosses for six months now — I think it’s clearer that Greenwell and the rest of the editors didn’t just up sticks in a fit of pique the first time G/O said something stupid.
The very first "Adults in the Room" post made it clear that it started right at the beginning.
 

Haunted

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I think one of the goals of some of these PE companies is not direct profit maximization, but overall profit maximization of the larger company.

Example: my girlfriend works for a large vitamin company that was purchased by a large PE firm. This firm proceed to sell off chunk after chunk and make mystifyingly bad management decisions. They had a nonstop flood of consultants coming in that either did nothing at all or made things worse (implementing endless change control processes that stifled any growth or agility and caused massive stock shortages, etc.). But the consulting agencies - and the "solutions" they would recommend - were all owned by that same PE firm.

Between the sale of individual IP, physical plant sales, entire contract sales, paying their other companies service fees and the likely high dividends they pay themselves, the carcass of the vitamin company is a total shambles but the parent company has made enormous profit.

I wonder if that was the play with Deadspin, only it completely exploded on them when the entire writing staff quit.
 

joe dokes

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I think one of the goals of some of these PE companies is not direct profit maximization, but overall profit maximization of the larger company.

Example: my girlfriend works for a large vitamin company that was purchased by a large PE firm. This firm proceed to sell off chunk after chunk and make mystifyingly bad management decisions. They had a nonstop flood of consultants coming in that either did nothing at all or made things worse (implementing endless change control processes that stifled any growth or agility and caused massive stock shortages, etc.). But the consulting agencies - and the "solutions" they would recommend - were all owned by that same PE firm.

Between the sale of individual IP, physical plant sales, entire contract sales, paying their other companies service fees and the likely high dividends they pay themselves, the carcass of the vitamin company is a total shambles but the parent company has made enormous profit.

I wonder if that was the play with Deadspin, only it completely exploded on them when the entire writing staff quit.
As always.....follow the money.
 

InstaFace

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Now that Paul Maidment has resigned, is Spanfeller going to create content as the only Deadspin employee? I'm ready for it.
There's probably a universe where Great Hill realizes that their only alternative is to just shut down the site, and instead they sell the burned-out shell of Deadspin back to a consortium led by its former editors or even Leitch for, relatively, pennies - and they revive it and go their own way with ad sales, SEO and all the other media-site infrastructure. Maybe they have some sort of licensing agreement to keep it attached to Kinja. And the writers maybe don't all come back, but they'd mostly all contribute from time to time, maybe a few of them come back full-time, and they'd be able to build something of an indie sports-critique site again, maybe not big business but still resembling some fraction of what they used to do.

I have to imagine Great Hill would sooner shut the site down than go that road and endure the relentless jokes directed their way, even if they got a few more bucks for it than zero.
 

Marciano490

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[QUOTE="John Marzano Olympic Hero, post: 3622020, member: ]
This whole ordeal was like two blind guys slap fighting on a football field.
[/QUOTE]

I would like to invest in your sport league idea.
 

dirtynine

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No new posts for a week now, not even Kinja/Amazon referrals. I guess the site must still get a ton of traffic, but how long can they leave it in this state?
 

Seven Costanza

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@UnDeadspin on twitter is collating ex-Deadspinners work elsewhere. Has posted Magary's Vice pieces, something Samer did today for the Outline, etc.