Sports Illustrated Union Mission Statement
We, the editorial staff of Sports Illustrated, are uniting to fight for the future of the publication that has stood for the best in sports journalism for more than 60 years. On Jan. 2, TheMaven took over as the operator of SI. And today, we are announcing that our newsroom—inclusive of print, digital and video staff—is organizing together with the NewsGuild of New York, the union that has represented SI print employees since 1954. More than 90 percent of us call on TheMaven to voluntarily recognize our union as we begin this new chapter. Our new leaders have asked us to give them a chance. We are confident that our best chance at a collaborative, productive future depends on voluntary recognition.
Our audience deserves a thriving Sports Illustrated, the leading national outlet uncompromised by business entanglements with leagues. Even amid last fall's operational uncertainty, our independent reporting held the powerful to account, while our rich storytelling illuminated the human experience. As the people who make SI, we know as well as anyone that our future relies on digital growth. But we cannot succeed without maintaining the standards that made our publication excellent in the first place.
Decisions made by new management over the last few months have put SI's reputation and long-term health at risk. The October layoffs at Maven’s direction gutted our newsroom. Two dozen employees who lost their jobs were women or people of color, leaving us less representative of the world we cover. Moreover, Maven’s directive to launch a network of team reporters on SI’s platforms without sufficient vetting or editorial oversight has already resulted in errors that severely undermine our credibility.
Our staff is not alone in voicing concerns about the future of SI. We have heard from long-time subscribers, advertisers, peers in the business and the athletes and teams we cover, looking for assurances that SI will continue to produce high-quality journalism. Mike Krzyzewski referenced SI’s mass layoffs in a post-game press conference in December. Megan Rapinoe called out SI’s lack of diversity and representation in her Sportsperson of the Year acceptance speech. There would be great benefit internally and externally, after a turbulent year that also included the voluntary departures of a number of key staff and the halving of our magazine frequency, in our leaders recognizing the union.
Our entire newsroom deserved to be organized even before the events of the last three months. Under previous owners, SI had extended some, but not all, benefits of the existing union contract to the digital and video employees among us—even though we were functionally one newsroom. Some of us could be called upon to work long hours without overtime, or work for years as temps employed by a third party with inferior benefits and job security. We had no rights in disciplinary proceedings, and through rounds of layoffs, we were reliant on SI's beneficence for the severance pay our union-covered peers received. The same was true for annual salary increases.
Our mission as a union is to safeguard Sports Illustrated’s standards and integrity while creating a better workplace that includes print, digital and video employees under the same umbrella. We seek to extend the same protections our print colleagues had under a Guild contract: pay floors and raises, just cause, severance, and more. We deserve a voice in the decisions about our future: The network of team reporters must be held to the same editorial standards and processes as the rest of the SI staff. Our newsroom must be properly staffed to cover major events and pursue the long-term projects and investigations that separate us from other outlets. We must prioritize diversity by establishing inclusive hiring practices and paths to advancement for women and people of color. We must conduct a company-wide gender and race pay equity study, followed by immediate correction of any unjust pay disparities. And we must implement stronger anti-harassment training and policies to secure a safe work environment for all.
Sports Illustrated has always expected more from its journalists, and we have delivered. We are now using our collective voice to ask for more from our new owners and operators. By recognizing the union now, TheMaven can demonstrate that it respects the staff of Sports Illustrated, the legacy we have helped build and the future we want to ensure.
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