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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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‘Deadspin’ Sold to European Start-Up, All Staffers Laid Off

  • The sports media outlet has been sold to Lineup Publishing, which has very little online information.
  • All staffers were let go and immediately shut out of their emails, an employee confirmed with ‘FOS.’
FOS Illustration

The sports media company Deadspin has been sold, and all staffers were let go, employees were told Monday during a company meeting, which Front Office Sports confirmed with one of those workers. 

The European firm Lineup Publishing bought the company from G/O Media. An email obtained by FOS from CEO Jim Spanfeller to G/O Media employees Monday, which misspelled the company’s name, read: “While the new owners plan to be reverential to Deadpin’s unique voice, they plan to take a different content approach regarding the site’s overall sports coverage.” 

About a dozen people were on staff before the meeting, and they were immediately locked out of their emails and company platforms, the employee tells FOS. Employees were told that Lineup Publishing is a start-up and plans to publish the same kind of stories that already run on Deadspin, per that staffer. 

There’s very little info about Lineup Publishing on the company website, which was registered Thursday via a domain registrar based in Iceland. The Lineup Publishing site doesn’t state who runs the company and doesn’t mention the Deadspin acquisition. In the lower-left corner of the landing page, “San Gwann, Malta” is listed. FOS submitted a request for comment via the web form on the page.

“It seemed pretty clear to me this was the only way it could end. It was only a matter of time,” Deadspin’s former editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell tells FOS. Greenwell quit the publication in 2019, shortly before many others followed, and, the next year, nearly 20 former staffers founded Defector Media.

“It is sad when a publication goes under. I think it is also clear that that publication has been struggling since everybody left in 2019. Their readership has long been a tiny fraction of what it was. The quality of journalism clearly hasn’t been what it was,” Greenwell says.

Greenwell blames the “private equity playbook” that “took what was a very healthy and thriving part of the sports media ecosystem, destroyed it, and sold it for parts.”

G/O Media’s parent company, the private equity group Great Hill Partners, bought Deadspin from Gizmodo Media, in 2019, along with other outlets like the feminist site Jezebel and tech site Gizmodo. G/O Media shut down Jezebel in November before selling it later that month to Paste Magazine, and the site has since resumed coverage.

The sale comes a month after G/O Media was sued for defamation in a Delaware state court over Deadspin’s portrayal of a young Kansas City Chiefs fan in a Native American headdress in a November story. The original version of the story, which didn’t name the young fan, described him wearing “Black face” and included a picture of half his face. 

Despite the blowback, Deadspin left the article up for more than a week before a letter from Clare Locke—a law firm that previously represented former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and far-right activist group Project Veritas—led Deadspin to alter the story on Dec. 8.  

The picture of the young fan was subbed out for a picture of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and the term “Black face” was removed from both the headline and story. 

“Unfortunately the article drew attention to the fan, though our intended focus was on the NFL and its checkered history on race, an issue which our writer has covered extensively for Deadspin,” Deadspin said in an editor’s note.

Meanwhile, certain Deadspin stories have disappeared from the website, including, ironically, pieces criticizing corporate media owners like Megan Greenwell’s “Adults in the Room” and Laura Wagner’s “This Is How Things Work Now at G/O Media.”

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