Defector will function like a cooperative, owned and operated by the writers, and without any outside investment. According to the New York Times, each writer will receive a 5 percent stake in the new venture.
“This is Defector, a new sports blog and media company,” read a message on the site. “We made this place together, we own it together, we run it together. Without access, without favor, without discretion, and without interference.”
Last fall, Deadspin, the popular, irreverent and at times controversial sports website, imploded in dramatic fashion after private equity firm Great Hill Partners purchased the site that rose to prominence as part of the Gawker Media network. Staffers chafed at management’s attempt to steer the site away from politics and other non-sports topics, and over the course of several days last November, the entire editorial staff resigned.
Faced with a shrinking job market and corporate consolidation — particularly private equity firms acquiring and running more publications — journalists have begun to seek new models for employment, hoping to capitalize on direct relationships with their readers. Many have launched paid newsletters through a company called Substack.
Defector will attempt to do it on a larger scale, offering subscription plans that range from $69 to $1,000 annually (plus an option for any generous “mysterious benefactor” to chip in $25,000).
The site will include many of the recognizable names from Deadspin, including columnist Drew Magary and investigative reporter Diana Moskovitz. The editor in chief will be former features editor Tom Ley.