G/O Media’s editorial director Jim Rich has abruptly left the company, home to Deadspin, Jezebel and Gizmodo, in a clash with private equity ownership, TheWrap has learned.
Rich, who has been in the job for 18 months, told TheWrap that he resigned this afternoon from G/O Media and that it was due to clashes with upper management: “I can confirm specifically that I resigned this afternoon from G/O Media and that it was solely because of clashes with upper management,” he wrote in an email to TheWrap.
Rich declined to go into detail about the nature of the clash with ownership.
A G/O Media spokesperson told TheWrap: “G/O Media and Jim Rich have parted company – in his 2 years here he provided stability during a very important time for the company as we moved from a period of disruption (not uncommon after an ownership transition) to a much more stable platform. We appreciate all of his efforts. We thank him for his contributions, and wish him only the best in his future endeavors.”
The spokesperson declined to give a reason for Rich’s exit.
G/O Media formed after private equity firm Great Hill Partners bought Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion back in 2019. The move is only one of many as private equity firms and hedge funds have bought up newspapers and media companies, only to slash staff and leave those newsrooms with uncertain futures.
Earlier this year, Alden Global Capital snatched up Tribune Publishing, one of the few remaining newspaper chains not owned by private equity. When private equity owners come in to acquire a news operation, the industry has witnessed troves of people losing their jobs and real estate getting sold while firms strip out all the cash that is left. The Tribune owners have cut the New York Daily News staff in half.
Rich, who oversaw the company’s portfolio of digital outlets like Deadspin, Jezebel and Gizmodo, told The Daily Beast that his departure was not related to recent blowback from a Deadspin story he co-authored last year about ESPN host Rachel Nichols.
The former editor at HuffPost and New York Daily News editor-in-chief joined in January 2020 as the top editor of the sports news site Deadspin after the abrupt resignation of its editorial staff the year before. Three months later, he was promoted to editorial director of all G/O Media’s sites.
Rich had been trying to relaunch Deadspin. In 2019, Deadspin staff quit after the company executives instructed them to restrict their coverage to sports, rather than stories about pop culture or criticizing G/O Media’s policies. All of Deadspin’s 20 editorial staffers revolted and quit, leaving the outlet without writers or editors. The directive from the parent company came after Deadspin published an article criticizing the autoplay video ads on the site.
Former Deadspin staffers have since launched their own outlet called Defector, a subscription-based site run by about 19 people with Tom Ley as editor in chief.