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."
we’re done today. but running an unabashedly left-wing news site was the greatest scam ever. love the weirdos that made this place special, wouldn’t undo a single deranged post we did for the world
— Katherine Krueger (@kath_krueger) October 10, 2019
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."
ah man rip splinter. "The Website I Liked To Read Was Killed By Private Equity"
— kill tim faust (@crulge) October 10, 2019
Some media reporting from vacation: this guy couldn’t even spell correctly the name of the site whose staff he’s laying off. Very cool! pic.twitter.com/s74IAbjNcy
— noah kulwin (@nkulw) October 10, 2019
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 forever. pic.twitter.com/uSHCXbdEdl
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— GMG Union (@gmgunion) October 10, 2019
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 Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, 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!!!!"