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Deadspin writers quit in mass exodus after editor was fired for defying ‘stick to sports’ order

Deadspin — the G/O Media-owned sports blog beloved for its honest, unapologetic reporting and penchant for straying outside of the realm of athletics — is hemorrhaging staffers.

Many of its most prominent writers — including Kelsey McKinney, Lauren Theisen, Tom Ley, Laura Wagner, Chris Thompson, Albert Burneko and Patrick Redford — all resigned after a feud between the editorial staff and executives resulted in the firing of former deputy editor Barry Petchsky.

Shortly after, the Gizmodo Media Group union issued a statement via its Twitter account:

The statement accused the company's CEO, Jim Spanfeller, of "curtailing [Deadspin's] most well-read coverage because it makes him personally uncomfortable."

"This is not what journalism looks like and it is not what editorial independence looks like," the statement continued. "'Stick to sports' is and always has been a thinly veiled euphemism for 'don't speak truth to power.' In addition to being bad business, Spanfeller's actions are morally reprehensible."

On Monday, an editorial director who reports directly to Spanfeller, sent a memo to writers demanding that they "write only about sports and that which is relevant to sports in some way." The editorial staff, led by Petchsky, defied the order by placing all of their non-traditional "sports" coverage front-and-center on its site Tuesday.

Some of the prominently-featured articles included "Three Good Dogs I Met," "Woman Furiously Shits On Floor Of Tim Hortons, Throws It At Employees," "What Did We Get Stuck In Our Rectums Last Year?" and, perhaps most notably, "The Adults In The Room," a piece by former Deadspin editor in chief Megan Greenwell that detailed the unfavorable shifts in the company's management since it changed hands.

The broader G/O staff also recently clashed over auto-play ads on the site and reader experience.

By Tuesday, Petchsky — the top editor at the blog — was fired "for not sticking to sports."

Theisen alleged that management tried to smooth things over with staff after Petchsky's was dismissed. She posted a photo of the meeting:

Readers, sports enthusiasts, and fellow writers quickly took to Twitter to commend the former Deadspin employees for their integrity and courage.

In a statement to The Daily Beast's Max Tani, a G/O spokesperson said, "They resigned and we're sorry that they couldn't work within this incredibly broad coverage mandate. We're excited about Deadspin's future and we'll have some important updates in the coming days."

It remains to be seen what the future of the site holds, but Deadspin as we once knew it appears to be gone forever.