Sports Illustrated continues to be the same in name only after announcing a high-profile, cost-cutting move Friday afternoon, firing senior writer Grant Wahl.
Recently, Wahl hasn’t shied away from expressing disdain for the way Maven operates Sports Illustrated. Days before he was fired, Wahl shared concern over Maven using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to permanently reduce his salary.
A 23-year journalist for SI, Wahl was given the ax with no severance pay, a move that was met with criticism on social media. But Maven quickly sent an internal memo condemning Wahl, painting him as a selfish employee for complaining about taking a paycut during trying times for everyone.
“Every senior staff member volunteered to put their personal budgeted future at risk, to save jobs and ensure stable salaries for those making less. Everyone, that is, but one person,” CEO of Maven, Jim Heckman wrote in the memo obtained by Front Office Sports. “This person made more than $350,000 last year to infrequently write stories that generated little meaningful viewership or revenue.”
“To complain about a personal pay cut when 31 others had lost their jobs is incomprehensible in light of the sacrifices others made to help limit layoffs and maintain liveable salaries for our staff. Such a me-first attitude is not part of the tradition and culture Maven is committed to maintaining,” the memo continued.
“We’ve decided to direct what would have been this person’s salary into additional severance pay and health benefits for those laid off who need it most.”
Wahl quote tweeted the memo shared by Ian Thomas of Front Office Sports, defending his position, stating he writes frequently and his base salary was “far below” the listed $350,000.
“I told Maven I was fine taking a 30% pay cut during the pandemic. But it was shameful to try to push through a permanent 30% cut beyond the pandemic,” Wahl added on Twitter.
Late last month, projecting a $30 million decline in revenue this year, Maven laid off 31 employees including nine from SI’s editorial department. Longtime SI staffers Chris Ballard, Jack Dickey, and Laken Litman were part of the round of layoffs two weeks ago, while Wahl had remained with other high-profile writers such as Pat Forde and Tom Verducci.
Dave Portnoy Tells Business Insider CEO He Is ‘Piece Of S*** Coward’
“Despite objections from the moderator, Dave Portnoy got out his entire question before his mic was muted.”
Dave Portnoy is not going to move on from his hate of Business Insider. The Barstool founder joined a Twitter Spaces session on Thursday night where the public had a chance to talk to Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget.
The event was hosted by the New York Times. Blodget was part of a panel discussing issues facing the business community.
“So yeah, I saw that piece of shit Henry Blodget’s on there,” Portnoy said when his mic went live. “My first question’s why would a piece of shit who’s been banned by the SEC from talking about stocks be on there. My second question is hey Henry, you f***ing coward, you know everything you wrote about me was bullshit. Why don’t you ever sit down with me you f***ing piece of shit coward. That’s my question.”
Despite objections from the moderator, Dave Portnoy got out his entire question before his mic was muted. No answer came. The moderator apologized to Blodget and ended the event.
The accusations of Blodget being banned by the SEC from discussing financial advice are true. Portnoy was referncing fraud charges that Blodget settled in 2003 when he was a Wall Street analyst.
Business Insider has ran a salacious piece about Portnoy’s sex life in November. It included accusations of misconduct from three women that claimed consensual sexual encounters with Portnoy took a dark turn without their consent.
Dave Portnoy has maintained the story is not true. He has also threatened to sue Blodget, Business Insider and the story’s author Julia Black.
Mile High Sports Acquires Colorado Preps
“Mile High Sports adds Colorado Preps to a portfolio that includes a radio brand broadcasting on 98.1 FM and 107.5 FM HD-3 in Denver, a magazine, and MileHighSports.com.”
Mile High Sports has acquired the Colorado Preps brand, including ColoradoPreps.com and the company’s radio and podcast networks. The deal is effective immediately.
“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished through 19 years of the Colorado Preps Network and very excited about the future with Mile High Sports,” said Kevin Shaffer, owner and founder of Colorado Preps. “The MHS crew is poised to bring additional and expanded coverage to high school sports across the state and we’re honored to stay involved with the network and help its growth.”
He will remain on the staff and continue hosting and producing radio and digital shows.
“With the elimination of the Rocky Mountain News, and shrinking budgets across most news outlets, local high school sports coverage has often and unfortunately become the casualty,” said Mile High Sports Editor-in-Chief Doug Ottewill. “But there will always be kids playing sports and parents wanting to read about those kids playing sports. I think ColoradoPreps.com fills a need and a niche that will never go away, no matter what’s happening on the bigger sports landscape in Colorado.”
Mile High Sports adds Colorado Preps to a portfolio that includes a radio brand broadcasting on 98.1 FM and 107.5 FM HD-3 in Denver, a magazine, and MileHighSports.com.
Barstool Sports To Eliminate Some Podcasts
“We almost created a model where we started with all the resources, we didn’t start with the idea or the people and as a result, we have a lot of things that weren’t necessarily going in the right places.”
Barstool Sports is doing some internal re-organizing. As a result, some shows are being cancelled.
Talking on her podcast Token CEO, Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini said the company has looked under the hood the past few months and are trying to clean things up.
Nardini also stated that the company’s spending needs to be reined in. She feels like too much has been invested in content that hasn’t been delivered, and creative freedom has become more of a curse than a blessing.
“We almost created a model where we started with all the resources, we didn’t start with the idea or the people and as a result, we have a lot of things that weren’t necessarily going in the right places,” she said.
In the podcast space, Barstool has 94 different offerings to choose from. Nardini said it’s just become too much, and they’re going to have to scale things back.
“No company of our size should have 94 shows,” she said. “What was my mistake and our mistake? We treated all 94 shows equal.”
Nardini realizes that means tough decisions are going to have to be made. Good, talented people will either have to move on or their jobs will be re-purposed.
“I’m bummed that it impacts people’s jobs,” she said. “I think that is a really, really serious thing when a role gets impacted and things change. You have to take that with a little bit of a heavy heart.”
Erika didn’t specify which shows, in particular, would be getting the ax, but it’s believed that the show Podfathers will be among them.
Show co-hosts Michael McCarthy aka “Large” and Justin Clemenza aka “Clem” took to Twitter and to the Barstool blog to announce the parenting podcast was no more.
Jordan Demcher aka “Jordie” tweeted a couple of thoughts on the situation but then clarified his podcast would carry on.
Keep your eyes on social media over the next few days for more details on this situation from Barstool’s personalities.