Ex-Deadspin staffers set to launch new site ‘Defector’

Several of the top contributors who left the popular site Deadspin a year ago amid a battle over editorial control with new parent company G/O Media have formed a new site called Defector that is set to launch in September.

Among the names on the new masthead: Drew Magary, David J. Roth, Barry Petchesky and Diana Moskovitz.

Magary and Roth are also going to co-host a podcast called The Distraction. The podcast is set to launch in August, while the Defector site is set to launch in September.

Basically, they’re getting the band back together, which should be very exciting news to a lot of people. That said, it doesn’t exactly feel like Deadspin 2.0 — mostly because of the business model.

In a sign of how the economics of web-based publishing have changed since the site’s 2005 inception, Defector is a subscription-based site instead of one supported by advertising and sponsorship as Deadspin was (and still is, as it continues to operate in the absence of many of the key people who built it).

Subscriptions to Defector are $69 a year for basic access to articles and $99 a year for added perks like commenting privileges, newsletters and other access.

Per The New York Times, there are no outside investors in the site and all employees have about a 5% stake. They will be paid as the site makes money. “If you’re going to take a moonshot, you may as well do it exactly the way you want to,” Kelsey McKinney, a former Deadspin staffer turned Defector contributor said.

Presumably that doesn’t just involve the business side. At the heart of the mass exodus last year was a battle over what topics Deadspin should cover — with its new parent company wanting writers to essentially stick to sports.

On a personal note, I was an avid Deadspin reader for many years after its launch.¬†Magary, one of the world’s foremost tortured Vikings fans, used to appear with me on a regular blog feature after games called “The Monday Meltdown.” It’s not a stretch to say my blog, and the subsequent path it took me on at the Star Tribune, was influenced significantly by the early days of Deadspin. (I even used to use the Royal We! Remember that?)

In this business, there’s no cheering in the press box. But rooting for talented writers to make a living doing without compromise? I’ll do that every day — including right now for Defector.

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