A G/O Media spokesman confirmed the news, which made Twitter vibrate anew after days of froth over Deadspin’s meltdown. The drama has played out against a backdrop of challenging times for the digital media business, which has been squeezed by the dual advertising behemoths of Facebook and Google.
“It is the right moment for me to leave to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity,” Maidment wrote in a memo to staff. “I admire the journalism that you produce and the unique voice that is otherwise missing from mainstream media. It has been a great honor and I wish you all the very best. I am certain that the sites will grow and thrive in the future.”
Maidment and Jim Spanfeller, CEO of G/O Media, had worked together previously at Forbes and a newer outlet, the Daily Meal. But with G/O backer Great Hill Partners looking to make its private-equity math work on the acquisition of the former Gawker Media sites from Univision, things had gotten particularly tense at Deadspin.
Culminating months of roiling staff unrest since G/O entered the picture last spring, interim editor-in-chief Barry Pechetsky was fired last week. His ouster came after Maidment issued a directive that the editorial staff was to “stick to sports,” rather than branching into the other topic areas that had helped define the site over its nearly 15-year run.
Pechetsky was fired when he refused to comply with Maidment’s instruction. Over the next few days, more than 20 full-time editors and writers as well as noted freelance contributors resigned. Maidment’s exit leaves no publicly identified editorial staff in place at Deadspin. Since the staff left, the site’s handful of posts have carried no bylines and most have been NFL game posts.
A G/O rep did not address the editorial path ahead for Deadspin, but saluted Maidment. “We thank Paul for his hard work and wish him nothing but the very best,” the company said in a statement. “We will be working with our [editors-in-chief] to expedite the search for a new editorial director.”
Other sites in the portfolio include Jezebel, Jalopnik and Gizmodo.