Employees received an email from publisher Arena on Friday, informing them of a “significant” round of layoffs. It is still unclear how many of the 100 employees were dismissed. according to Washington Post This concerns almost the entire workforce. Three weeks ago, the publisher failed to pay a $2.8 million (€2.5 million) invoice to licensee Authentic Brands Group (ABG).
Therefore, Al Baraka Banking Group canceled the license, Arena wrote in an email to employees. A 90-day notice period applies to terminated employees who are union members, and other employees are laid off immediately. Thus the future of the magazine, which has been a leader in American sports journalism for decades, is in doubt.
The round of layoffs didn’t come entirely out of the blue. Businessman Manoj Bhargava bought a majority stake in Arena last year. After a damning report on the magazine’s future, Bhargava called the staff together for a meeting. He allegedly told editors: “Nobody is important. I’m not important. It’s unbelievable how many useless things you do.”
Editorial staff at Sports Illustrated It has been significantly reduced several times before. When Al Baraka Banking Group bought the license in 2019, about 40% of the jobs disappeared. At that time, the magazine was published every two weeks for some time instead of weekly. In 2020, this number was reduced to one issue per month.
Last fall it turned out that several authors on the website of Sports Illustrated does not exist. The profile pictures of the “authors” were generated by artificial intelligence. The articles attributed to the fake authors may also have been written by Amnesty International. After the revelation, the non-existent editors and their works disappeared from the site. According to publisher Arena, the pieces were provided by a third party.