Deadspin Employees Who Revolted Against Website Create New Subscription-Based Sports Blog


Eighteen former Deadspin employees who left the website in protest last October are forming a new subscription-based sports blog called Defector Media, it announced Tuesday morning.

The Defector website is expected to launch in September while its first podcast will drop in two weeks. Deadspin’s former features editor Tom Ley will be the editor-in-chief of the site and Jasper Wang, a former Bain & Company employee and fan of Deadspin, will lead the business side, per The New York Times. Wang said he’s optimistic about Defector because of The Athletic, a subscription-based sports reporting powerhouse.

“The hardest part is still the hard part which is having writers with talent and followings, and having these writers willing to hold hands and jump together,” Wang said. “Once they decided to do that, building the scaffolding of the business is easier than it’s ever been.”

In October 2019, Deadspin employees staged a mass resignation after the site’s owner G/O Media fired longtime deputy editor Barry Petchesky to push writers and editors toward the company’s new “stick to sports” editorial mantra. A week later, Paul Maidment, editorial director of G/O Media, resigned in an internal memo that went to what was left of the staff.

Deadspin initially struggled to employee contributors weeks after, but the site still produces daily content, including a recent investigation that gained online attention about a “creep” who sent them footage of ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and “may have also committed a crime.” Union talks between employees in January went cold and its operations moved to Chicago before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Following the turmoil at Deadspin, employees at Defector will allow a two-thirds majority to vote out an editor-in-chief from being in charge.

“It would be cool to show that this could be successful,” said Samer Kalaf, a former Deadspin managing editor turned employee of Defector to the Times. “If we tried it and it doesn’t work, at least we can say we tried it.”

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