It has been a wild week for Sports Illustrated. Editor-in-chief Chris Stone vacated his position. His replacements, Ryan Hunt and Steve Canella, circulated a memo that trumpeted extreme optimism just hours before the Wall Street Journal reported that about 20 percent of the workforce would be laid off to be replaced by local contractors. Then Deadspin said it could be as much as half, and that separate all-hands meetings were planned today. Both outlets reported today that those meetings were abruptly canceled.
This afternoon, SI staffers are begging Meredith Corp. and Authentic Brand Group (ABG) to save them from TheMaven, which acquired the editorial control of SI while ABG retained the branding IP they purchased from Meredith:
TheMaven is run by Ross Levinsohn and James Heckman, who have a long history of management in digital media that at its nicest definition could be described as turbulent.
Meredith purchased SI in its bundle of the rest of Time Inc.; they saw synergies with People Magazine and their home and lifestyle properties, as they set to sell off Time, Fortune, Money, and SI. When SI was originally sold to Authentic Brand Groups, there was said to be an agreement from Meredith to continue to run the editorial operations for a couple years while ABG got their bearings. This abruptly fell by the wayside when Levinsohn and Heckman swooped in.
Dozens of SI staffers are tweeting and retweeting the SIUnited message, including Jessica Smetana, Kalyn Kahler, Joan Niesen, Jack Dickey, Charlotte Wilder, Jason Schwartz, Priya Desai, Jenny Vrentas, Tim Rohan, Bette Marston, Molly Geary, Tom Mantzouranis, Kristen Nelson, Andrew Sharp, and Emma Baccellieri.
The NewsGuild of New York has also pledged their support:
This is a developing story and we will continue to monitor it.