Tag Archives: Deadspin

Is Deadspin relevant anymore?

Father Scott

Long ago, Pax wrote a post saying that Deadspin was necessary reading for sports fans. I’m not sure this is the case anymore.

Since Leitch’s departure last year, the site’s content isn’t the same. Daulerio’s just not as good of a writer. From a purist standpoint, there are a lot more errors. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s not as funny. The only guy on staff who can hold his own with Leitch is Dashiell Bennett, whose posts are few and far between (comparatively). There are really only about 40 must-read columns a year — Drew Magary’s and Leitch’s weekly football posts. For a site that posts 25 times a day, this is probably a problem.

It also has veered from its mission statement: without access, favor, or discretion. The discretion part is partially true, but as Daulerio has gotten closer and closer to ESPN, Deadspin is becoming an insider now. They have access to things. They interview Linda Cohn. They have Simmons on speed dial. They have plenty of sources; this isn’t some rogue operation. And the idea that they are, or have ever been, without favor is laughable. They pick on the same athletes repeatedly (often justifiably, but at the root we are talking about favor), and natually like the teams they like.

The other problem is this: Deadspin has seemingly always been about the community it fosters, where people go on and try to outdo each other in the comments section of articles. Most of them aren’t funny and are just crass — it becomes sports radio in print. And with the options available to people for expressing themselves on the Internet, what’s the point in spending your time in the dregs of Deadspin? You can get your information from all kinds of sources. There are a gazillion (official count) places to get breaking news, reaction, or humor for your sports information, and I think Deadspin is getting passed on all accounts.

As Simmons is constantly saying these days (for specific examples, check out his two-part podcast with Chuck Klosterman), the best thing about the Internet is that it’s forcing you to be good. If you’re not talented, you won’t last. Leitch lasts. Magary lasts. The best sports guy on the Internet, JE Skeets, will have a long career. (Note: His takeoff of the Costas Now video about Deadspin is the funniest thing in the history of the Internet.) But Deadspin as currently constructed is failing on its mission statement and doesn’t have the talent to hold up. It has name recognition, but is there any substance behind it?

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Will Leitch explains it all

Pax Arcana

Will Leitch has only days left as editor of Deadspin, the biggest sports blog on the Internet (and therefore symbol of social decline to every lazy sportswriter in America) before he departs for a cushy gig as contributing editor at New York Magazine.

In the time he has left, Leitch seems to be getting a bit sentimental. In a post yesterday, he unburdens his soul about the current state of the media landscape and his place in it. In the sports world, that discussion must center on ESPN, the oft-reviled “World-Wide Leader in Sports,” whose response to the rise of Deadspin, Kissing Suzy Kolber, With Leather, and other sports blogs should serve as a lesson to old media companies.

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What that lesson is, I have no idea. But I’m pretty sure it starts with: Don’t be a douche.

Here’s Leitch:

It started at the Super Bowl in Detroit, when ESPN distributed a memo making it clear no one from Deadspin would be allowed at any ESPN parties. (The site, at this point, was three months old.) The next year, they brought out the muscle. Trey Wingo had Daulerio — who was told, if he tried to take a picture of Sean Salisbury, he would be “put through a wall” — thrown out of another Super Bowl party. Berman went after a 15-year-old kid for quoting YWML to him. We received 4,000 words middle-of-the-night missives from angry ESPN.com writers. (Not Simmons, actually, before you ask.) Stephen A. Smith blamed us for his low ratings. (Or something.) One ESPN personality actually went to a private detective to look up information on us, and who our sources were. (He must have been so disappointed; “buys lots of black T-shirts and watches “Love And Death” a lot.”) And, of course, February 1, 2007. They must have felt that they were losing some guerilla war they didn’t know they were fighting.

This did, and still does, surprise us. ESPN was just not used to criticism, and once they started handling it so poorly, it was only a matter of time until other media outlets, eager to pick on the bully in the room, started piling on. Suddenly, Sports Business Journal is doing “What’s wrong with ESPN?” cover stories. We are not claiming to be the impetus for this; we just caught a wave that was coming, and ESPN responded with a crash course in how corporations should not handle bad publicity.

Leitch goes on to praise the strides made by ESPN.com, which has evolved from supporting the company’s TV initiatives to a stand-alone entity with more robust content (though it still has a wayz to go, in my opinion).

The point is that in the digital age, you can’t aspire to own your audience, the way you could in the old days. You have to play within a sprawling matrix of choices — which means you have to actually offer something different.

Not to get too sentimental, but that’s exactly what Will Leitch did with Deadspin. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Our Friends At Bristol [Deadspin]

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