More than two months after its top editorial boss abruptly quit, G/O Media is desperate to find a replacement—going as far as to recruit a former nemesis of the company’s flagship website.
The search for an editorial director for the company—which includes Gizmodo Media sites Jezebel, Deadspin, and The Root, among others—has been underway for weeks following the departure of the company’s former editorial director Paul Maidment.
Sources told The Daily Beast that G/O’s leadership was unable to convince its current top editorial employee Joyce Tang—a former outreach editor at The Daily Beast—to take the job in a temporary capacity while they searched for a permanent replacement. Multiple insiders told The Daily Beast that the company had balked at Tang’s request to match Maidment’s salary.
And top employees were taken aback when G/O’s head of human resources, Angela Persaud—who has emerged as one of the company’s most powerful figures since joining last year—shared details of the scuttled Tang negotiations with some of her editorial colleagues.
In an email to the current editors-in-chief of G/O’s websites, Persaud revealed that Tang turned down the job despite receiving what the HR chief described as a generous offer; and she asked if any of the editors would be interested in applying for the job. According to sources, Tang herself was copied on the email.
Staffers who were aware of the email recalled being somewhat disturbed that the company’s human-resources director would disclose information about a negotiation considering that HR professionals are generally supposed to act equanimously and are discouraged from sharing details of private job and salary negotiations.
And the lack of serious internal interest in the job has forced the company to look elsewhere for candidates.
Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that one of the top contenders for the spot is Jim Brady, a former public editor at ESPN who has repeatedly used his Twitter account to admonish and mock Deadspin and its then-writers.
In a series of May 2018 tweets, Brady railed against a Deadspin article about his departure from ESPN as “all that's wrong with journalism in one dumb graf.” He also repeatedly called the author “smug,” saying Samer Kalaf took cheap shots “befitting the site he writes for.”
And in a separate exchange with former Deadspin editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell several months later, Brady declared that he did not respect the sports site—which he would now be in charge of revitalizing should he be hired.
“Thanks, I always prioritize career evaluations from people I’ve never met who run sites I don’t respect. One of the wonderful things about Twitter is people like you who think i give a shit what you think about me,” he said at the time.
Brady acknowledged to The Daily Beast on Friday that he had in fact had discussions with G/O but played down their significance.
“It’s certainly true to say I have had discussions with G/O—I have had discussions with other companies too—but I wouldn’t characterize them as serious. Not really seeking an industry job at the moment; my focus is on continuing to build my consulting business,” Brady said.
“G/O Media has no comment on candidates for open positions or personnel at the company,” the company said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
The company’s ongoing lack of a top editorial boss is an extension of the turmoil and uncertainty that arose following G/O management’s edict for Deadspin to “stick to sports,” resulting in the mass resignation of that site’s entire staff.
Editorial employees throughout the company have repeatedly taken issue with decisions made by Jim Spanfeller, who became CEO when investment firm Great Hill Partners bought Gizmodo Media from Univision last year.
Earlier this week, the company’s union sent a letter to Great Hill requesting Spanfeller be removed as CEO, emphasizing that his reign has coincided with a decline in some sites’ traffic and an exodus of integral editorial staff.
The request came after Spanfeller sent a letter to the union admonishing staff and announcing that the company would suspend ongoing negotiations with unionized employees due to their “unreasonable and unprecedented” demands. The union fired back in a statement that the CEO’s behavior was “reckless,” “ill-informed,” and “demonstrated a jaw-dropping lack of understanding of the business he acquired.”
Under such tumultuous circumstances, the company has struggled with recruiting and retaining staff. Following Deadspin’s mass resignation, and despite all lingering hostilities, Spanfeller has even called up some former employees to ask them if they’d consider rejoining the site. So far, it appears none have taken him up on his offer.