Deputy Editor, Defector
Jul 13, 2021
In 2019, Barry Petchesky was fired as acting editor-in-chief of the irreverent sports (and politics and pop culture and lifestyle) site Deadspin, where he had worked for a decade, “for not sticking to sports,” he wrote in a tweet that ricocheted throughout the media world.
Petchesky’s shitcanning came one day after a staff memo from Jim Rich, the editorial director of Deadspin’s new parent company G/O Media, mandated that the site only write about sports “and that which is relevant to sports in some way.” The next day Deadspin ran all non-sports stories with each article captioned “stick to sports.”
What happened next was delicious: After Petchesky’s ouster, all of Deadspin’s writers would subsequently quit in solidarity. In July of 2020, they collectively announced a new subscription-based sports website, Defector Media, with 19 employees, each of whom own approximately 5 percent of the company. The site racked up 10,000 subscriptions on its first day. Six months in, Defector was reportedly paying more than 20 staffers a minimum salary of $50,000, and has continued to expand. The next big moment of truth for Petchesky and team comes this month, when that first round of subscriptions come up for renewal.
In the meantime they can all take solace in the fact that G/O Media’s Rich abruptly left the company last week in a clash with private equity ownership, just 18 months after taking the job.