G/O Media’s top editorial boss on Tuesday defended the firing of a top Deadspin editor as part of the company’s new mandate for the website to stick solely to sports coverage.
Moments after cutting ties with Deadspin deputy editor Barry Petchesky, editorial director Paul Maidment said in a statement to The Daily Beast that G/O Media’s mandate to write exclusively about sports was broader than its critics believe it to be.
“Yesterday, I sent a memo to Deadspin staff stating that our sports site should be focused on sports coverage. As I made clear in that note, sports touches on nearly every aspect of life—from politics to business to pop culture and more,” he said. “We believe that Deadspin reporters and editors should go after every conceivable story as long as it has something to do with sports.”
However, Maidment added, alluding to the recent firing, “We are sorry that some on the Deadspin staff don’t agree with that editorial direction, and refuse to work within that incredibly broad mandate.”
The stick-to-sports rule came several months after Deadspin’s former parent company, Gizmodo Media Group, was bought by private equity firm Great Hill Partners and renamed G/O Media.
In the months since, G/O higher-ups have clashed with top Deadspin staff over the site’s longtime commitment to covering topics beyond sports. Though the site primarily focuses on sports and sports media, the site’s writers have also blogged about politics, media, and pop culture.
In August, editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell left the site after G/O management allegedly asked her to limit the site to sports. And on Tuesday, one day after G/O execs put that mandate in writing, Petchesky announced that he’d been fired for refusing to hew to the edict.
G/O’s mandate and its firing of Petchesky was met with widespread condemnation from readers, journalists, and the site’s own reporters, who publicly criticized the decision and shared many popular non-sports posts from the site.
“Earlier today, @JimSpanfeller, CEO of G/O Media, fired our colleague and longtime Deadspin Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky. This will not stand. We will have updates soon,” G/O’s editorial union posted on Tuesday.