The GMG Union responded Friday to news that G/O Media plans to relocate whatever is left of Deadspin to Chicago in the wake of last fall’s mass staff exodus. The union members said they “vehemently object to” the plan.
“No one in this bargaining unit is surprised that, once again, Jim Spanfeller has demonstrated a jaw dropping lack of understanding of the business he acquired,” the union statement said of the G/O CEO.
“Moving Deadspin to Chicago will not solve the problem that Jim never understood Deadspin, and did everything in his power to kill it,” it continued. “The members of this bargaining unit vehemently object to this decision. You’ll be hearing more from us on these issues soon.”
In an earlier letter, Spanfeller wrote “to address the current situation regarding the WGAE and Deadspin,” saying Deadspin will be moved to Chicago and “under The Onion corporate structure to ensure the best chance of its future success.”
“In terms of modifications to the Gizmodo collective bargaining agreement’s editorial independence provision, we believe we have reached a point where our discussions are no longer productive and as such, we will not engage in further discussion on this topic,” he continued.
Spanfeller went on to highlight “Union-represented employees’ concerted, divisive actions and their continued objections” to managerial choices. “We have seen at least one extremely public example of a freelance writer being harassed incessantly — to the point the individual refused to work for Deadspin further.”
By Nov. 1 last year, every editor and writer was gone from Deadspin, but the sports-culture site chugged along, sort of, by posting previously-submitted contributor content. One freelance contributor, it seemed, was a brand-new guy… but then he quit too.
Alan Goldsher, the freelancer in question, told TheWrap that indeed, that Friday was his “first and last” day with Deadspin.
The exodus came after deputy editor and interim editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky announced on Twitter that he had been fired for “not sticking to sports.” Leadership at G/O Media had issued a memo to staff that Monday, emphasizing that the site’s “sole focus” would be on sports content — and only on sports.