G/O Media, the digital media outfit that noticed the complete editorial workers of Deadspin stroll out in 2019, continues to grapple with staffing points, Media Ink has discovered.
As this columnist reported on Friday, G/O Media’s editorial director, Jim Wealthy, abruptly resigned in a transfer that even caught the corporate’s CEO, James Spanfeller, off guard.
Now sources say Wealthy’s exit was simply the tip of the iceberg on the media firm because it victims from editorial churn and fights an explosive discrimination and retaliation lawsuit by a former prime govt.
Two G/O websites — AV Membership and the corporate’s flagship website Gizmodo — have been with out an editor-in-chief for greater than a month, sources mentioned. Insiders estimate that G/O must fill a minimum of 15 open editorial jobs out of about 150.
In the meantime, G/O continues to battle a Manhattan federal courtroom lawsuit filed late final 12 months by laid-off firm govt Katherine Pontius Ebel, who claims CEO Spanfeller “took management of inventive, profitable numerous manufacturers just like the Onion and remodeled them right into a enterprise run completely by a clique of his white male associates and colleagues.”
G/O counters that it’s “outperforming our 2021 objectives by way of profitability and reader engagement” and that it’s hiring throughout all departments, together with editorial. It additionally denies Pontius Ebel’s claims, which it’s combating in courtroom.
Pontius Ebel says she spent eight years at satirical web site the Onion when Univision offered it together with a dozen different websites to G/O Media’s monetary backers, non-public fairness firm Nice Hill Companions, in April 2019.
After the sale to Nice Hill, Spanfeller supplied Pontius Ebel a promotion to chief expertise officer of the complete firm, the swimsuit claims. However, based on the lawsuit, the promotion was withdrawn after Pontius Ebel objected to Spanfeller’s transfer to let go of EVP and Gizmodo Media Editorial Director Susie Banikarim, one of many few feminine executives and the one girl of shade on the firm.
Banikarim was laid off as a part of bigger cuts at Gizmodo shortly after the acquisition and joined Vice Media as editorial director by the tip of 2019.
Spanfeller then withdrew the chief expertise officer job, leaving her with a diminished position on the Onion, the lawsuit mentioned. Just a few months later she was fired.
“Sadly, former chief of workers and chief income officer of the Onion…may not be a part of Spanfeller’s unique boys membership management crew as a result of she is a lady and stood up towards the discrimination that was starting to pervade the group she beloved,” claims the swimsuit filed by Julia Elmaleh Sachs of Crumiller P.C., one of many attorneys representing Pontius Ebel. The legislation agency payments itself as “The Feminist Litigation Agency.”
Pontius Ebel is suing for misplaced wages, damages and intentional infliction of emotional misery.
“G/O is assured that its claims towards Pontius will likely be substantiated and that her claims towards the corporate will likely be dismissed,” the corporate mentioned in a press release.
“G/O Media is extraordinarily pleased with its ongoing dedication to develop and foster range, fairness and inclusion which is closely supported by the corporate’s management,” the corporate mentioned, claiming that “greater than half of the corporate’s administration positions are held by numerous incumbents, together with ladies.”
G/O lobbed a countersuit at Pontius Ebel claiming she breached her fiduciary duties and her employment settlement. A choose has tossed the corporate’s counterclaims, however the firm mentioned it plans to file an amended criticism towards her this week.
Wealthy, a two-time editor-in-chief of the Each day Information, joined G/O first because the editor-in-chief of Deadspin in November 2019 following a mass exodus of the positioning’s editorial workers resulting from prime brass attempting to maintain writers from masking subjects past the sports activities.
He did a ok job to get promoted to editorial director of the corporate’s remaining 11 websites in Might, even because the sports activities world that was the topic of Deadspin protection got here to a screeching halt final March resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns.
Requested why resigned, he mentioned, “I had ongoing disagreements with higher administration and it made it not possible for me to do my job.” He declined additional remark.
However one insider mentioned Spanfeller “is an unbelievable spendthrift about every little thing…If in case you have somebody nickel and diming important headcount, [it is] not possible to get something executed.”
One other insider known as Spanfeller a “micromanager” who consistently bigfoots his prime managers and executives in editorial and different areas of the corporate — even going as far as to query the price of napkins and silverware at company-sponsored occasions.
Insiders additionally complained that Spanfeller and the pinnacle of HR, Angela Persaud, have slowed down the method of filling about 15 open editorial jobs.
Within the case of Wealthy, it culminated in a shouting match between the editorial director and CEO on Friday afternoon, sources mentioned. Wealthy immediately resigned on the spot.
Some studies on Wealthy’s departure speculated that it needed to do with a narrative about ESPN sideline reporter and host Rachel Nichols making disparaging remarks in regards to the expertise of Maria Taylor, a black girl that ESPN moved to host of the 2020 NBA finals.
Deadspin had a section of the leaked video, however didn’t report on the racial overtones. The New York Occasions obtained the video one 12 months after the Deadspin story, written by Wealthy, failed to say the racial angle and as an alternative performed up the invasion of privateness considerations, labeling the Nichols colleague who had leaked the video “a creep.”
A spokesman for the corporate attributed the break up to a “conflict of administration fashion” however mentioned the flap over the ESPN story “didn’t play a task.”
Wealthy, in the meantime, advised Media Ink that he and Spanfeller “by no means had a dialogue in regards to the story.” And he added of that story that he had simply “4 minutes of a 20 minute tape.”
“Given the knowledge we had … I’d most likely write the identical story right this moment,” he mentioned.