Sports Illustrated layoffs begin with editor-in-chief Chris Stone

Layoffs at Sports Illustrated began on Wednesday following the abrupt replacement of the magazine’s editor-in-chief with two of his former underlings.

On Tuesday, The Post first reported online that departing top editor Chris Stone’s job will be split between executive editor Steve Cannella and Ryan Hunt, the managing editor of SI.com. Each will now have the title of co-editor-in-chief.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that up to 40 people will be laid off and the layoffs of about half the staff began shortly thereafter.

Although the layoffs are technically being done through SI’s operator Meredith, it is clearly at the behest of the small digital publisher The Maven.

A source close to the situation said that about one-third of the layoffs will come from the editorial side.

Layoff victims began tweeting the news on Thursday afternoon.

SI reporter Tim Rohan tweeted, “I’ve been laid off as part of the purge at @SINow. If you need a writer, reporter, podcaster, please let me know. Any journalism job at all. I’ll work in the mailroom. My DMs are open.”

Jake Fischer tweeted, “Four years ago I first stepped foot in SI’s newsroom. Today is unfortunately my last day as an SI employee, as part of today’s layoffs. It’s been a devastating day in the office, but I’m looking forward to whatever’s next.”

Baseball scribe Jon Tayler also got the ax.

“It’s official: After six years, a lot of bylines, and getting to call the Orioles diarrhea in an article, my time at Sports Illustrated is over,” Tayler tweeted. “If you have need of a baseball writer (or a writer for anything, honestly), please don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s been fun.”

Earlier in the day, a memo had circulated calling on Authentic Brands, which bought Sports Illustrated for $110 million in June to end its licensing agreement with the small digital publisher and tech platform company The Maven.

Maven made a $45 million down payment for ten year licensing deal to run the media operations that include the print magazine, the SI Swimsuit edition and related web site.

“We’re going to be hiring people over the next three months,” said Maven CEO James Heckman. The plan is to unveil micro sites dedicated to individual pro sports teams and top college sports teams.

Said one source, “Their plan is to build a more nimble version of The Athletic.”

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