Opinion | The ironic immorality of the Sports Illustrated layoffs

Luca Evans
Sports Editor

It’s fun to imagine a theoretical Santa reading my childhood Christmas lists. I picture him sitting in a rolling chair at a desk, reading my scribbled cursive on a sheet of notebook paper. He’d subsequently swivel over to an old 1980s computer (because that just feels right), type “sportsillustrated.com” into the search bar and sign me up for a subscription. Because that, for a few years, was almost always the first thing on my list.

On Thursday, Oct. 3, The Washington Post and a multitude of other news outlets reported that Maven, the now-owners of Sports Illustrated, laid off about 35 to 40 percent of the editorial staff. This hurts quite a bit on a number of levels. Firstly, the Seattle-based start-up named Maven took over media operations less than half a year ago and is now grossly altering the dynamic of a publication that has existed for over 60 years as one of the most successful and well-respected magazines in the country. Cool. Secondly, Ross Levinsohn, who has been sued twice for workplace sexual misconduct, is taking over as the CEO of editorial content. Rad. Thirdly, according to a tweet from current Sports Illustrated writer Robert Klemko, Maven didn’t even give the courtesy of sending a single representative into the room where the news was broken to hardworking journalists – who’ d been tenured at Sports Illustrated for years. In a sick twist of irony, writers and reporters who’ve been holding themselves to the highest standard of ethical sports journalism were laid off without any shred of morality.

The truly irritating thing about this situation is that, amidst today’s media landscape, this kind of act is hardly surprising anymore. In November 2017, numerous layoffs were imposed at the LA Weekly after the publication was bought by Semanal Media. Another massive media company, Gannett, has made a name for itself in buying local newspapers and gradually hemorrhaging staff members.

You might know of these trends already. I did too and I’m ashamed of myself for that. We can’t just scroll through our phones until one day it hits us that the in-depth storytelling we once used to appreciate had vanished. Each journalist that loses their job creates a chain reaction of in-depth stories that are brushed over, waiting to be told, but with no pen and paper to put thoughts into words.

Maybe I’ll write another Christmas list this year, just for the heck of it. Dearest Santa, I’ll say. For Christmas this year, the No. 1 thing I would like is for companies to stop buying and immediately slashing time-honored and extremely important publications for personal economic benefit. Please and thank you. P.S. I’ll leave cookies and milk for you in the living room.