So I was hoping that today I’d be posting about my latest Deadspin article that I filed last week, which is about a topic that FoS readers are particularly passionate about, but that’s probably not going to happen now that my editor was just fired:
Hi! I’ve just been fired from Deadspin for not sticking to sports.
— Barry Petchesky (@barry) October 29, 2019
If you want to read the whole background of the “stick-to-sports” edict, you can start with this article yesterday from the Daily Beast, though really you should go back to Megan Greenwell’s farewell post as editor-in-chief where she laid out how, as she put it, “the tragedy of digital media isn’t that it’s run by ruthless, profiteering guys in ill-fitting suits; it’s that the people posing as the experts know less about how to make money than their employees, to whom they won’t listen.” (Petchesky wasn’t even editor-in-chief of Deadspin when he was fired; he was just the interim fill-in after Greenwell’s departure.) But if you’ve ever read Deadspin, you’ll know that its entire raison d’etre is the notion that sports and culture and politics and everything else are one big glorious mess, and while sports is the site’s bread-and-butter, digressing occasionally to write about the propriety of hanging out at football games with war criminals or even bizarrely aspirational gift catalogues is all part of the attraction.
I don’t have the slightest idea what happens to Deadspin now — whoever’s next in line to be interim EIC undoubtedly would be at least as hostile as Barry to the “stick to sports” edict, which I guess could lead to a long series of Deadspinners stepping into the role only to be fired in turn, a la the Wobblies’ free speech protests. There’s a good chance there will be unfair labor practice charges, and almost certainly more fights over the private equity takeover of American media. There is almost zero chance that it will mean good things for the future of Deadspin, or of reporting that does political analysis of sports. If you’re a sports owner who depends on doing business beyond the reach of journalistic scrutiny, your job just got a little easier today.