Update (6:40 p.m. ET): This story originally stated layoffs were expected. It has been clarified to note sources within the organization have told FOS some editors are bracing for job losses.
When it launched in 2016, The Athletic touted its ability to super-serve local sports fans as it hired top writers and editors in each market away from newspapers.
That approach just shifted dramatically. The content produced by local writers will no longer be handled by editors in the same market, sources with knowledge of the shift in strategy told Front Office Sports.
The move was announced in a conference call with staff on Jan. 14.
The writers for each market will now fall under the vertical for each sport, one source said. Some editors are bracing for job losses, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the plan.
The Athletic denies there will be layoffs:
“As we announced on a staff call today, we will be making some structural changes to our editor setup to better balance workloads and improve coordination and communication throughout the newsroom,” The Athletic said in a statement to Front Office Sports. “To be clear, there will be no layoffs or salary cuts and we’ll be hiring for several new editorial positions early in 2021. There will be no changes to our reporters’ roles or assignments and local coverage will not be impacted.”
The Athletic often has multiple editors in each market, although some smaller markets are handled by editors in other regions.
The Athletic had its first significant layoff in June 2020 as the pandemic shut down college and professional sports. About 8% of the workforce was cut and many of the approximately 450 employees left at the company saw pay reductions that lasted about five months.
In September, CEO and co-founder Alex Mather said The Athletic had surpassed 1 million subscribers.