Paul Maidment, executive editor of G/O Media, informed company staff in a memo of the decision Thursday. He said the company will “reallocate” Splinter’s seven-person team to other sites in the portfolio, which include Deadspin, Gizmodo and Jezebel.
“Despite the hard work of everyone on that staff, which has produced much outstanding journalism and great scoops, establishing a steady and sustainable audience for a relatively young site has proved challenging in a fiercely competitive sector,” Maidment said in the memo, which included a typo in the subject line (referring to the site as “Spllinter”).
However, the union local that reps G/O Media editorial employees, which is affiliated with WGA East, said in a statement that the Splinter staffers were laid off and that the union was negotiating severance packages on their behalf. “This loss hurts, and we’re worse off for it — particularly in the lead up to one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes,” the union said in statement.
Aleksander Chan, Splinter’s editor-in-chief, also tweeted the news of the site’s shutdown. “It has been my greatest honor to have been the editor of this site and I will love this staff to my dying breath,” Chan wrote. “Thank you to all of our readers, fans, and haters — it’s been a thrill.”
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Splinter began in 2013 as part of Fusion TV, then a joint venture of Univision and Disney. After Univision acquired the assets of the former Gawker Media in a bankruptcy auction in 2016, the broadcaster launched Splinter as a standalone property. Then in April of this year, Univision sold Gizmodo Media Group, along with its interest in the Onion, to the newly formed G/O Media, which is backed by private-equity firm Great Hill Partners.
Maidment, in his memo, claimed the shutdown of Splinter will not result in any “reduction of G/O Media’s editorial workforce… Our goal, wherever possible, will be to retain current Splinter staff members in open positions at other G/O Media sites.”
G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller, a longtime media executive who holds a minority stake in the company, told Variety shortly after the sale of the Gizmodo and Onion businesses that the company didn’t plan significant layoffs but added that G/O Media will be “looking to run things more efficiently.” Less than a week later, G/O Media let go 25 staffers, or around 6% of its headcount at the time.