Last Thursday, Sports Illustrated reduced its full-time staff of 150 by 40 workers. Greg Witter, who is a spokesman for Maven, the company that manages Sports Illustrated, said 200 contractors will replace the former full-time staffers in terms of covering college and professional sports.
The decision to relieve those full-time staffers was not the correct one in both professional and emotional aspects. Maven didn’t think its decision through, and now a number of people will be affected by the layoffs, including millions of readers across the United States.
An argument that people had against Sports Illustrated was that it would die off eventually because of its traditional print format and its slow response time when it came to updating its digital format. That statement can be argued because a large part of the magazine’s reader base prefers to pick up a new copy of the publication on racks instead of going to its website.
It looks like Maven made this move to save money, instead of keeping the traditional staff members that have graced every facet of Sports Illustrated for the past few years. Witter said the new contractors will still be “professional journalists,” but it feels like their writing would not have the same impact that came from the full-time staffers.
Over the years, I have read many of my favorite sports stories in Sports Illustrated, and I admit that I felt a great sadness when I heard the publication would replace a large part of its staff. While I do hope the contractors produce great content, it would feel different to pick up a copy of the magazine. I also feel like the next move for the magazine would be to cut it completely and go the digital-only route.
I hope Sports Illustrated can find a way to bring back and keep full-time staffers or at least make sure it is hiring quality contractors. If traditional in-depth sports writing remains the main focus for the publication, then it will be in a good place for a long time.