Sports Illustrated Publisher Cuts 40 Staff Jobs, Plans to Replace Laid Off Workers With Contractors

40 employees were let go Thursday

Last Updated: October 3, 2019 @ 9:30 PM

The new publisher of Sports Illustrated laid off 40 of the magazine’s 150 staff members on Thursday, and says it intends to shore up workforce with contractors instead. The job cuts were previously reported on Wednesday.

TheMaven, which publishes Sports Illustrated under license from the magazine’s owners, Authentic Brands, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap. However, in a statement to the New York Times, Maven spokesperson Greg Witter confirmed the cuts, and the company’s plans to replaced the laid off employees with contractors, which he referred to as “independent publishers” who are “still professional journalists.”

Authentic Brands purchased Sports Illustrated for $110 million in May, saying at the time that former owners Meredith would continue to publish SI for at least the next two years. Less than a month later the company announced it had licensed publishing rights to TheMaven, the digital media company whose CEO, Ross Levinsohn, is best known for his tenure as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, marked by conflicts with newsroom staff over attempts to enact widespread layoffs and funding cuts.

According to the Times, TheMaven said that the cuts were mandated by Meredith, a claim disputed by Meredith who told the Times that Maven mandated the layoffs and that “going forward, the remaining SI employees will work at the direction and at the pleasure of Maven.” On Thursday Afternoon, a group of SI employees tweeted a plea to Authentic and Meredith to “drop TheMaven and save Sports Illustrated.”

The cuts come two days after Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief, Chris Stone, stepped down after seven years. According to Deadspin, Stone is “considering an offer from TheMaven for a more global, less SI-focused position within the company.”

Authentic Brands did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TheWrap.