Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

The progressive news site Splinter shut down abruptly on Thursday.

The progressive news site Splinter shut down abruptly on Thursday. (Image: Twitter)

'Shut Down by Vulture Capitalist Goons': Progressive News Outlet Splinter Shuttered

"Splinter did the kind of fearless and adversarial journalism that represents the very best of our sites. This loss hurts, and we're worse off for it."

Eoin Higgins

In the latest example of how vulture capital is destroying media, newly renamed G/O Media suddenly shuttered its political news outlet Splinter Thursday, leaving staffers and freelancers without jobs and closing a vital progressive news source in the midst of a major U.S. presidential primary battle and the constitutional crisis surrounding the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Staffers took to Twitter to lament the news and express their pride in the work they accomplished.

"Running an unabashedly left-wing news site was the greatest scam ever," said Splinter managing editor Katherine Kreuger. "Love the weirdos that made this place special, wouldn't undo a single deranged post we did for the world."

Aleksander Chan, the site's editor-in-chief, tweeted, "It has been my greatest honor to have been the editor of this site and I will love this staff to my dying breath. Thank you to all of our readers, fans, and haters—it's been a thrill."

Former staffers and readers shared their comrades' pain.

"I did some of my proudest work at Splinter and it fucking sucks that it's getting shut down by vulture capitalist goons," said Emma Roller. "Splinter forever."

"They view our jobs as their checking accounts," Deadspin's Albert Burneko said. "That's all. We're nothing to them."

Reporting on the closure by The Daily Beast's Max Tani cited an internal memo from G/O executives claiming that the site's staffers would be moved "to the other sites to increase the impact the editorial department can have overall."

But some staffers said on Twitter that they were "laid off," and their union announced that the staff writers had "lost their jobs."

Splinter rose from the ashes of Gawker, the politics, culture, and gossip site that shut down in 2016 after wrestler Hulk Hogan brought a lawsuit, backed by alleged blood-drinking billionaire Peter Thiel, against the outlet.

The site's parent company, Gizmodo Media, was bought by Univision in 2016 and then sold to private equity firm Great Hill Partners in early 2019. The media group includes the sites DeadspinGizmodoJalopnik, Kotaku, Jezebel, and more.

Great Hill brought on Jim Spanfeller, a former Forbes editor, to manage the site. An exhaustive report on Spanfeller's brief but destructive reign by Deadspin's Laura Wagner in August described the experience of working for the new regime:

Spanfeller's biggest effect on the company since taking over has been a deflation of morale. Several high-ranking employees have left the company over the past three months, departments have been stretched thin, and those who remain say that Spanfeller's micromanaging and inappropriate interference has hamstrung their ability to effectively do their jobs.

G/O rebranded on October 2 as "The Heartbeat of Next," a slogan that was ridiculed by the company's staff. 

Despite the tension between the new management and company staff, the closure of Splinter was unexpected. 

"I'm sure management's decision to shut down Splinter makes sense, there probably wasn't any high-traffic politics news happening in the next year and a half," Kotaku's Chris Person said sarcastically.

The last post on the site was a piece by writer Naomi LaChance, entitled "Conservative Journalist Tries to Shame AOC for Participating in Society," about the reaction from the right to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for getting a haircut. 

The last line of LaChance's article provides a good epitaph for Splinter after being closed down by a private equity firm that didn't seem to care to understand or support the site's work.

"Thanks, I hate it!!!!"

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Wall Street-Funded Democrat PAC to Spend $1 Million in Bid to Unseat Tlaib: Report

"Imagine spending $1 million to oust Rashida Tlaib instead of organizing in Detroit to make sure Michigan goes blue," quipped one progressive group.

Brett Wilkins ·

Parents Demand Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 'For the Sake of the Children'

"We cannot remain silent as the fossil fuel industry and world leaders rob our children of a livable future," parents from 32 nations wrote in an open letter.

Brett Wilkins ·

'We Can Do Better' Than Biden's Paltry Student Debt Relief Plan, Says AOC

The president's approach, said the New York Democrat, is "just enough to anger the people against it *and* the people who need forgiveness the most."

Julia Conley ·

Right-Wing Supreme Court Poised to Make US Gun Carnage Even Worse

The U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority could soon "obliterate even the mildest of gun regulations in service of its gun lobby masters."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Enough Is Enough!': Thousands Protest Outside NRA Convention in Texas

"I'm just tired of the NRA subordinating children's rights for gun rights," said one gun lobby opponent just three days after the school massacre in Uvalde.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo