At least seven Deadspin staffers quit on Wednesday in response to recent mandates related to editorial policy from the site’s parent company G/O Media.
Employees announced their decisions to quit on Twitter. Among the departures are Kelsey McKinney, Laura Wagner, Tom Ley, Lauren Theisen, Patrick Redford, Chris Thompson and Albert Burneko. These resignations follow the firing of Barry Petchesky, who was serving as interim editor-in-chief.
These resignations come in the wake of turmoil at Deadspin and G/O Media, which took over the company in April. In August, former Deadspin editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell condemned G/O’s leadership in a blog on her last day, which included details about a new mandate for the site and its writers to “stick to sports.” On Monday, G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment sent a memo to staff instructing them about that edict. G/O Media also removed a blog post soliciting reader feedback on the site’s user experience, including autoplay video ads.
G/O Media started running autoplay video to meet demands on a seven-figure advertising deal with Farmers Insurance Group, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. But Farmers Insurance Group pulled the deal the next day, according to The Daily Beast. Farmers Insurance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNN Business did not immediately hear back from GMG Union, which represents the editorial staff at sites including Deadspin. The union tweeted Wednesday, “From the outset, [G/O Media] CEO Jim Spanfeller has worked to undermine a successful site by curtailing its most well-read coverage because it makes him personally uncomfortable. This is not what journalism looks like and it is not what editorial independence looks like.”
Writers Guild of America East, which represents the union, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A G/O spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business, “They resigned and we’re sorry that they couldn’t work within this incredibly broad coverage mandate. We’re excited about Deadspin’s future and we’ll have some important updates in the coming days.”
Prior to Wednesday’s mass departure, Deadspin senior writer Diana Moskovitz announced her resignation on Twitter Tuesday, writing “what happened today – and everything that preceded it” as part of the decision. Ben Reininga, G/O Media’s head of video, also announced his decision to leave on Twitter Wednesday.
These exits are just the latest in a series of protests that have unfolded since April when G/O Media’s management took over Deadspin and other sites in the portfolio. The sites’ former owner Gawker Media was bankrupted after losing a lawsuit filed by Terry Bollea, also known as wrestler Hulk Hogan, and bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel.