Sports Illustrated Announces Plans to Layoff Entire Staff

2024-01-20 15:00:11

There has been an utterly fascinating development in Big Media.

It appears that the entire staff at the once iconic Sports Illustrated magazine is poised to be laid off.

The Arena Group alerted all Sports Illustrated staffers on Friday that their positions were being eliminated.

Richard Deitsch, a sports media reporter who left Sports Illustrated for the Athletic, posted on X the email that all employees received.

“Some employees will be terminated immediately, and paid in lieu of the applicable notice period under the [union contract],” the notice read. “Employees with a last working day of today will be contacted by the People team soon. Other employees will be expected to work through the end of the notice period, and will receive additional information shortly.”

The magazine’s union indicates it will continue to fight for the publication of the magazine, but that may be an uphill battle. The magazine’s owner, Authentic Brands Group, missed a payment to the Arena Group that was part of the 2019 sales agreement.

“This is another difficult day in what has been a difficult four years for Sports Illustrated under Arena Group (previously The Maven) stewardship,” the union said in a statement. “We are calling on ABG to ensure the continued publication of SI and allow it to serve our audience in the way it has for nearly 70 years.”

In 2019, [The Meredith Corp.] sold Sports Illustrated for $110 million to Authentic Brands Group, in turn agreeing with The Arena Group to publish SI in print and digital. That deal was terminated after Arena missed a nearly $4 million payment less than a month ago, in effect breaking the licensing deal.

The mainstream media is claiming that the reason for the massive layoff stems from the revocation of this marketing license.

In an email to employees Friday morning, the Arena Group, which operates Sports Illustrated and related properties, said that Authentic Brands Group has revoked its marketing license.

“As a result of this license revocation, we will be laying off staff that work on the SI brand,” the email said.

However, that license would not have been pulled if the $4 million dollars were paid. Now, why would the very famous Sports Illustrated magazine not be able to send a check?

The data suggest that the magazine publishers were not selling a publication that consumers wanted to buy.

For example, its readership wasn’t interested in seeing trans cover models.

SI readers seem to have preferred models whose height was proportional to weight . . . and perhaps young as well.

Furthermore, the magazine was caught using articles generated through using artificial intelligence.

Sports Illustrated is the latest media company to see its reputation damaged by being less than forthcoming — if not outright dishonest — about who or what is writing its stories at the dawn of the artificial intelligence age.

The once-powerful publication said it was firing a company that produced articles for its website written under the byline of authors who apparently don’t exist. But it denied a published report that stories themselves were written by an artificial intelligence tool.

Fun fact: Back in the early 1990’s, I would buy the swimsuit edition to determine what swimsuit I would purchase for that summer’s beachwear.

But it appears the people who were making the publication decisions decided woke messaging was more important than profits. Sadly for them–and their employees–the people they owed money to don’t have the same nonsense priorities.


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