film / tv / substack / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / substack / web / celeb

jezebel-log-940x540.jpeg

Jezebel's Editor in Chief Resigns Over Staff Mistreatment

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | August 22, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | August 22, 2023 |


jezebel-log-940x540.jpeg

For those who don’t know him, Jim Spanfeller is the David Zaslav of Bob Igers. He is the CEO of G/O Media, which is owned by a private equity firm that also owns most of what used to be known as the Gawker sites: The Onion, Jezebel, AV Club, Deadspin, The Root, Gizmodo, etc. These are historically very popular sites with large followings.

When G/O Media took over the old Gawker Media slate of sites in 2019, the best and easiest thing to do would have been to perhaps trim some costs by laying off underperformers, but otherwise keep the place humming. That’s not the direction that the former CEO of Forbes decided to take.

Instead, he started a war with Deadspin, which led to its Editor-in-Chief being fired and eventually its entire staff resigning (many of whom are doing just fine over on Defector). In the intervening years, there have been almost nothing but negative headlines from that set of sites: Labor and union disputes, staff resignations (over 75 percent of the Jezebel staff resigned at one point, and 15 of 16 writers at The Root left), a disastrous situation where they lost several of their best writers at the AV Club for trying to force them to move to Los Angeles, a five-day strike in March of 2022, and most recently, the decision to publish very bland, very badly written, often inaccurate posts composed by AI bots.

Jim Spanfeller runs the company like a spreadsheet, and his employees are mere lines on that spreadsheet—little else. I suspect the GMG Union is the only thing that’s kept those sites running. Alas, the company has lost yet another EIC in Jezebel’s Laura Bassett, who exited over poor working conditions for her staff.

Screen Shot 2023-08-22 at 9.25.18 AM.png

“If I’m not allowed to replace my deputy editor, give any of my writers raises or promotions ever for the great work they do, or fill any of the half dozen open writer slots I’ve had for a year, it’s clear that any pathway for growth I had here has been deliberately cut off and that I’ve done all I can do to make this site what it could be given reasonable resources,” she wrote in her resignation letter obtained by The Daily Beast.

In spite of all the turmoil and the lousy working conditions, I will say that Jezebel has remained a very good site in the last couple of years (especially post-Roe), even if it doesn’t have the bite it once did (a former writer of ours, Kylie Cheung, is doing great work over there (buy her book)). The AV Club is a shell of what it once was (have there always been this many slideshows?), but despite all the upheaval, the sites do remain profitable because of a combination of (dwindling) brand loyalty, search engines, and keeping costs down, which means treating its employees like crap. Spanfeller literally operates by an algorithm: “25 percent based on output, 50 percent based on traffic generated, and 25 percent on engagement.”