Mass Layoffs, Chaos at Sports Illustrated Spark Journalists’ Rebellion

By Christine Zosche 

The revered 65-year-old Sports Illustrated magazine is in a state of bedlam. In meetings Thursday afternoon, managers told staff members that about half the newsroom would be laid off, according to two people present at the meetings. (NPR)

theMaven, which licensed the rights to Sports Illustrated’s print and digital publications in June, is behind the decision as it takes full ownership of the company from Meredith Corporation. (CNN Business)

As news of the impending cuts circulated, about three quarters of the staff signed a petition calling on SI’s new owner, Authentic Brands, to rescind its 10-year deal with theMaven, headed by Jim Heckman. (New York Post)

In a statement, Maven said it would “refocus” Sports Illustrated for a January relaunch, adding that it would also “enhance real-time news cycle coverage, strengthen mobile platform delivery and increase the development of complementary video content.” The company also said it would publish the work of a network of bloggers, known as Sports Illustrated Mavens, who would cover up to 200 college and professional teams. (NYT)

Thirty former employees on the print side of the publication will receive severance protection guaranteed through Sports Illustrated’s collective bargaining agreement with the NewsGuild of New York. Guild members are negotiating to extend those benefits to other laid-off staffers, including full-time contractors. (WaPo)