The Athletic Laying Off Nearly 20 Reporters As It Changes Coverage Approach

New York Times, owner of The Athletic
New York Times, owner of The Athletic / Ramin Talaie/GettyImages

On Monday the sports media business suffered another blow as The Athletic went through a round of layoffs. First reported by Ben Strauss of the Washington Post, the layoffs will affect "nearly 20 journalists" and comes from a change in strategy from the organization and its parent company, the New York Times. Per the Post:

The Athletic, the subscription sports website owned by the New York Times, announced Monday that it was laying off nearly 20 reporters, or about 4 percent of its journalistic staff. The news was delivered in an email to staffers from The Athletic’s publisher David Perpich and editor in chief Steven Ginsberg.

The note said an additional 20 reporters would be moved from their current team beats to new ones, including regional coverage or general assignment roles.

This is obviously a notable departure from the original mission of The Athletic, which endeavored to provide local coverage for every team across every sport. But, as noted in Strauss' article, Perpich and Ginsberg told their employees that new subscriptions are driven by national stories that appeal across the whole fandom spectrum and as such they'll be dedicating more resources to those kinds of stories.

The affected writers have already begun to tweet out their departures, with names like Rich Hoffman (76ers beat) Daniel Kaplan (sports business) and Bob Kravitz (Colts beat) included.

The Times purchased The Athletic for $550 million in 2022. The Post article above states the Times reported $7.8 million in losses last quarter. A tale as old as time in sports media-- the high-priced acquisition isn't leading to profit, and so the newsroom pays the price.