Tags: sports illustrated | coronavirus | job cuts | severance | writer | journalist

Sports Illustrated Soccer Reporter Fired For Criticizing Pay Cuts Amid Coronavirus

Sports Illustrated Soccer Reporter Fired For Criticizing Pay Cuts Amid Coronavirus
(Joe Raedle/Getty)

By    |   Friday, 10 April 2020 07:57 PM

Sports Illustrated on Friday fired top soccer journalist Grant Wahl after he criticized how the company handled job cuts and salary reductions sparked by the coronavirus outbreak.

Wahl, a 24-year veteran of the magazine, said he was axed with “no severance,” sparking a flood of outrage online from industry colleagues, Geek Wire reported.

Maven, the Seattle-based media company that purchased publishing rights to Sports Illustrated last year, announced March 30 it would cut 9 percent of staff due to the impact from the pandemic. Sports Illustrated journalists represented 6 percent of the overall cost reduction, Geek Wire reported.

In the letter to staff sent Friday, which Geek Wire obtained, Maven CEO James Heckman said Wahl “trumpeted” complaints about taking a salary cut. Heckman wrote that Wahl “made more than $350,000 last year to infrequently write stories that generated little meaningful viewership or revenue.”

“To complain about a personal pay reduction when 31 others had just lost their jobs is incomprehensible in light of the sacrifices others made to help limit layoffs and maintain livable salaries for our staff,” Heckman wrote. “Such a me-first attitude is not part of the tradition and culture Maven is committed to maintaining.

“As a result, we’ve decided to direct what would have been this person’s salary into additional severance pay and health benefits for those laid off who need it the most.”

Heckman does not identify Wahl by name in the memo.

Wahl criticized Maven earlier this week for how it was handling the cuts.

“Thankful to have a job, but the people who were laid off from SI this week at least got a good severance package,” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post, Geek Wire reported. “If we’re laid off July 1, we get absolutely nothing.”

Wahl added his salary was decreased by 30% and Maven was “trying to make that permanent beyond the pandemic, which is shameful.”

“Who would take advantage of a pandemic to permanently reduce someone’s salary beyond that pandemic? Maven and James Heckman would,” Wahl added in his social media post.

He also responded to the firing in a later tweet

“I told Maven I was fine taking a 30 percent pay cut during the pandemic. But it was shameful to try to push through a permanent 30 percent cut beyond the pandemic,” Wahl wrote. He added that his “base salary was far below [$350,000], but I got a bonus because my bosses said my work was very good,” adding, “I write frequently.”

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Sports Illustrated fired top soccer journalist Grant Wahl after he criticized how the company handled job cuts and salary reductions sparked by the coronavirus outbreak.
sports illustrated, coronavirus, job cuts, severance, writer, journalist
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2020-57-10
Friday, 10 April 2020 07:57 PM
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