A group of Sports Illustrated employees, still uncertain what their fates will ultimately be given the sudden scheduling and then cancellation of today’s “transition meetings,” have released a statement calling on their owners to “save Sports Illustrated” by canceling their licensing deal with TheMaven, a gross platform and digital media company that seems hellbent on replacing a huge chunk of SI’s staffers with cheap contract labor.
The statement, which was sent out on Twitter and has been confirmed to be authentic by Deadspin, reads:
Sports Illustrated has been an iconic brand for 65 years, defined by high-quality storytelling with global recognition. As the people who have made this publication what it is, we are writing to call on ABG and Meredith to save the future of this storied title.
Today, Meredith executives were on the brink of announcing major layoffs that would effectively gut Sports Illustrated. TheMaven wants to replace top journalists in the industry with a network of Maven freelancers and bloggers, while reducing or eliminating departments that have ensured that the stories we publish and produce meet the highest standards. With minutes’ notice, transition meetings were canceled, with our futures and families hanging in the balance. The way that today’s events have been handled suggest that the publication is in unstable hands.
These plans significantly undermine our journalistic integrity, damage the reputation of this long-standing brand and negatively affect the economic stability of the company. After the sale of Sports Illustrated to ABG, CEO Jamie Salter cited Sports Illustrated’s “trusted name and fiercely devoted following” as key to the success of the brand in the ABG portfolio. As the editorial backbone of this company, we strongly feel that all of this could be in jeopardy if this deal with TheMaven goes through.
If those concerns alone do not merit changing course, we also understand that TheMaven’s startup capital loan could be recalled instantly in the event of a substantial loss of profit. In addition, we question whether TheMaven has been forthcoming with ABG about its ability to sustainably or effectively run the publication.
If you know anything more about what’s going on at SI, get in touch.