Deadspin deputy editor Barry Petchesky said he was fired for failing to comply with a new company policy requiring the G/O Media publication to "stick to sports."
Deadspin is known for sports coverage, but it also is known for its media-, culture-, and politics-related coverage. The site has even criticized other sports organizations like ESPN and the PGA for avoiding politics.
Deadspin's G/O Media, which also controls other former Gawker Media sites like Gizmodo and Jezebel, sent a memo on Monday telling staff not to cover anything that doesn't explicitly relate to sports, Maxwell Tani reported in The Daily Beast.
"Where such subjects touch on sports, they are fair game for Deadspin. Where they do not, they are not," G/O Media editorial director Paul Maidment wrote in the memo published by The Daily Beast. "We have plenty of other sites that write about politics, pop culture, the arts, and the rest, and they're the appropriate place for such work."
Deadspin editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell left her post for Wired this summer, and she said her decision was partly due to her disagreement with the sports-only mandate, The Daily Beast reported in August.
Petchesky apparently also disagreed with orders that Deadspin ignore all non sport-related topics, tweeting Tuesday that "I've just been fired from Deadspin for not sticking to sports."
Despite the directive, at the time of Petchesky's announcement, the site prominently featured several non-sports stories.
Some of Petchesky's former coworkers tweeted their frustration with Jim Spanfeller, the G/O CEO that the Deadspin union said was responsible for firing Petchesky. Laura Wagner, a media reporter at Deadspin, called Spanfeller "a real piece of shit," and the union said it would back Petchesky.
"This will not stand," GMG Union tweeted. "We will have updates soon."
But Maidment said G/O stood by its decision to limit Deadspin coverage to sports.
"We believe that Deadspin reporters and editors should go after every conceivable story as long as it has something to do with sports," Maidment said in a statement to The Daily Beast that was later shared with Business Insider. "We are sorry that some on the Deadspin staff don't agree with that editorial direction, and refuse to work within that incredibly broad mandate."
G/O employees and GMG Union recently took issue with another company-wide decision: An advertising deal involving autoplay videos that the union called "spammy." G/O sites including Deadspin posted articles expressing their disagreement with the new ads, but they were soon removed by management, the union said in a tweet sharing a screenshot of the posts.
The GMG Union and G/O employees also took aim at the company earlier this month when it shut down political news site Splinter.