Normally, an announcement of this magnitude would be managed at our highest level. The writers here at Golden State of Mind are generally pretty cool about working with the corporate machine (for example, by carefully navigating the recent China PR issues)... but this one feels a little different.
Without warning to any of us, this showed up on Twitter:
A note on our California communities: https://t.co/9OQz0YS7bm— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 16, 2019
In the accompanying article, Vox spells out what is behind all of this. As we’ve known for some time, the organizational structure of this machine that we write for is... problematic. But more on that later.
Let’s just step back and take a moment to appreciate the robotic, insensitive corporate announcement for it’s cold, calculated beauty. From the article attached to that tweet above:
In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees. In the early weeks and months of 2020, we will end our contracts with most contractors at California brands.
For those that missed it, this stems from a recent California law designed to combat worker exploitation by large corporations that abused worker protection laws by labeling their employees as “independent contractors” rather than employees.
We’ve been asking Vox about this for months without response. As the normal contracting renewal period passed towards the end of Summer, there was a growing sense of dread amongst us that Vox was about to do us all dirty. You see, they didn’t just not renew contracts, they wouldn’t even provide updates or talk timeline for next steps.
Well, now we know the next step.
From what I can tell (not 100% clear), every single paid contributor is out.— Robert Flom (@RichHomieFlom) December 16, 2019
Everyone just (apparently) lost their writing gig.
Weirdly, the announcement buries this blurb deep in a paragraph.
Rather, we’re encouraging any contractors interested in one of our newly-created full-time or part-time employee positions to apply
I don’t know. Maybe some of us will stick around. I know that for me, my NBA experience won’t feel the same without GSOM in it. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine a worse way to handle this communication, so maybe it’s time to cancel SBN?
Regardless, thank you, dear readers and community members. It has been an absolute honor to share these experiences with all of you.
This is an unfolding situation, we will update this article as any pertinent new information is revealed.
Post publish updates:
Firstly, thank you all very much for all the messages of support. This community is amazing!
I just want to clarify something major. Vox representatives are beginning to appear with the message that content creators were formally notified prior to the social media posting.
We were not.
Here’s my email, note that the timestamp is four minutes after Vox posted their article and tweet.
Vox reaches out
Well. This article got real popular, real fast!
I was contacted by John Ness from Vox, you can see his entire reply below but they are very eager to clarify the thinking on their communication:
We sent it [an email to all affected parties] shortly after posting the note to SBNation.com so that we could link to the post and so that everyone, including those in the communities, could hear about these changes directly from us. Then we tweeted about it. Our intention was not for anyone to find out about these changes via Twitter. We also plan to call all of the community contributors to discuss the changes, get feedback and to tell them more about the roles we’re opening. We’ve already started that process.
He goes on to point out that not literally everyone lost their writing gigs, and that we can continue to work under the existing contractual relationship through March of next year, if so desired.