In a real-life “Well, that escalated quickly” moment, a writer went from the euphoria of publishing his first article on Deadspin.com to having an angry mob chastise him on Twitter to quitting his job at Deadspin all within one hour.
In what was supposed to be a landmark day for Alan Goldsher turned into an instant firestorm. Goldsher recently accepted a writing position at the staff-depleted Deadspin. On Friday afternoon, Goldsher published his first article titled “If Only Kevin Durant Had Beaten The Sh*t Out Of Draymond Green.”
But Goldsher made a fatal mistake. He didn’t make a grammatical error or misspell the name of Serbian basketball player “Alen Smailagić” in his article. Goldsher made the mistake of logging onto Twitter and announcing that he had written an article for the recently-despised Deadspin.
Furious commenters quickly lit their torches and sharpened their pitchforks to castigate Goldsher for writing an article for the “sports” website. “Guys, here’s my debut for @deadspin. I’m mildly concerned Draymond or K.D. will show up at my door, but those are the chances we take,” Goldsher wrote in the tweet that shared his Deadspin article.
A flurry of tweets calling Goldsher a “scab” flooded the responses to his tweet announcing his inaugural (and final) Deadspin article. Goldsher deleted the tweet after getting ratioed to oblivion.
After the barrage of backlash, Goldsher announced in a Twitter thread that he is “out of Deadspin.” Saying that accepting the writing position with Deadspin “clearly wasn’t a good idea, and I appreciate that I was pointed in the right direction.”
“In a weird way, I have to thank you guys for all the insults and cries of ‘scab,'” he wrote. “If that hadn’t have happened, I would’ve had no clue that the general public felt this way.”
“Sorry to come off as a wuss, but all of these mean tweets made me super-sad,” Goldsher said. “The second result of today is that I’m not going to mean-tweet anymore.”
This caps off a catastrophic week for Deadspin that saw the sudden downfall of the once-dominant sports blog. Deadspin, which advertises itself as “sports news without access, favor or discretion,” had a coup following management’s decision that their writers should “stick to sports.”
G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment, who is overseeing former Gawker sites including Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jezebel, and Lifehacker, sent a memo to Deadspin employees and it was leaked to The Daily Beast on Monday.
“To create as much great sports journalism as we can requires a 100% focus of our resources on sports. And it will be the sole focus,” Maidment said. “Deadspin will write only about sports and that which is relevant to sports in some way.”
“Where such subjects touch on sports, they are fair game for Deadspin. Where they do not, they are not,” Maidment continued. “We have plenty of other sites that write about politics, pop culture, the arts, and the rest, and they’re the appropriate place for such work.”
The day after the “stick to sports” policy was enacted, Deadspin writers revolted by only publishing non-sports stories to protest the company’s new policy.
Following the complete disregard for the company’s new direction, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller fired interim editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky on Tuesday.
Petchesky’s firing ignited other Deadspin writers to quit their jobs.
Even long-time Deadspin columnist Drew Magary, known for his Funbag column (Formerly Open Mailbag Tuesday), resigned from the website.
By Friday morning, all 20 of Deadspin’s editorial employees were no longer working for the company. A G/O Media representative stated that “the company is recruiting new staff.”
“They resigned and we’re sorry that they couldn’t work within this incredibly broad coverage mandate,” Deadspin said in a statement. “We’re excited about Deadspin’s future and we’ll have some important updates in the coming days.”
The union for the Gizmodo Media Group (former name of G/O Media) released a statement on the mass exodus. “From the outset, CEO Jim Spanfeller has worked to undermine a successful site by curtailing its most well-read coverage because it makes him personally uncomfortable,” GMG’s statement read. “‘Stick to sports’ is and always has been a thinly veiled euphemism for ‘don’t speak truth to power.’”