Sports Illustrated Lays Off 17 Staffers, Restructures Business

  • Co-editor-in-chief Ryan Hunt is to retire in March.
  • SI says it has created 12 new openings.
Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr. Bryant Denny Stadium Renovations
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Layoffs continue to haunt the venerable Sports Illustrated Group.

SI publisher The Arena Group issued pink slips to 17 staffers on Wednesday, according to a memo obtained by Front Office Sports.

SI also announced the pending retirement of co-editor-in-chief Ryan Hunt, a 25-year veteran, next month as the company reorganizes into three operating units.

“Today is a day of change in our sports business. We are restructuring our Sports Illustrated group to reflect how consumers engage with us, and how we address the needs of our partners and audience,” reads the internal memo. 

“We are saying goodbye to 17 colleagues and have created 12 new openings to reflect the new needs of the SI business. Since October of 2019, when we partnered with Authentic Brands Group to take over operations of the print and digital web and mobile businesses, we have evolved SI by repositioning the print business as a monthly publication, with premium journalism and excellent storytelling while also developing a robust digital presence across many platforms. The strategy has helped propel our sports vertical to rapid growth, adding more than 30 million users to our sports vertical since inception.”

Moving forward, Arena is reorganizing SI into three units:

  • The print magazine and long-form editorial group will continue to be led by editor-in-chief Steve Canella. 
  • Digital coverage will be led by Joy Russo – and feature a renewed focus on key sports verticals.
  • Neil Coolong will oversee breaking and trending news.

Despite the layoffs, Arena said SI is looking to hire nine new journalists and three editorial managers.  

The changes will enable SI to invest in “growth areas” of its brand, according to the memo.

On Wednesday, multiple laid-off SI staffers took to social media to announce their departure.

“Hey, Sports Illustrated just laid me off, so I guess if anyone’s looking for an editor I’m newly available,” tweeted Sarah Kelly.

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