Will Leitch

Will Leitch, Proud Member of the Mainstream Media

Word came down this afternoon, directly from the source, that Will Leitch will be leaving his post as editor of Deadspin effective June 27th.  He has accepted the position of contributing editor at New York Magazine.

Many thoughts entered my head when I first heard the news.  The first was, what a hypocrite!  Leitch has been such a critic of those in the mainstream press for most of his time at Deadspin and now he finds it convenient to join them?  What a sell out! 

Will he still be able to write “without access, favor, or discretion” now that he has access?  It really made my blood boil that the man who has, on occasion, called the old media, well, old, is now part of the club.  It just didn’t sit well with me…even though I realize the value of both old AND new media.  It just seemed Will would never stray from the cutting edge.  And it appears like he has.

Then I took a breath.

Leitch has done much work for the mainstream press for years.  This is truly an opportunity for him, and no one should criticize him for that.   Anyone who feels they have a better situation before them should take advantage of it.

I wish Will the best.  I just wonder when he will crumble under the demands and constraints the mainstream media will place upon him.  He created Deadspin and didn’t pursue a journalism career for that reason.  It’s a little ironic that he appears to be singing a different tune.  The reasons for which I will leave up for speculation.


SMJ Book Review- God Save the Fan, Will Leitch

Another new feature here at SMJ, one we hope will be useful when you take your next trip to the bookstore.  Our book reviews will consist of those dealing exclusively with the sports media or those written by sports media members.

Our first foray is God Save the Fan- How Preening Sportscasters, Athletes Who Speak in the Third Person, and the Occasional Convicted Quarterback Have Taken the Fun Out of Sports (and How We Can Get It Back), the latest book by Deadspin creator Will Leitch (in bookstores Tuesday, January 22nd).

Those of you who follow the sports blogsphere know all about Deadspin. It’s arguably the most popular sports blog on the Internet.   And all the credit goes to Leitch.

In short, if you love Deadspin, you will love this book.  Unlike other authors, Leitch does not resurrect old Deadspin posts and publish them in book form.   This read is all new material.  And there is no doubt that Leitch’s sense of humor and irreverance comes through.  God Saves the Fan reflects what attracts people to Deadspin, taking fun jabs at the people who play for, own, report on, and cheer on sports franchises.

Leitch takes great steps to detail how he feels players, owners, the media, and fans have evolved within the sports culture of today. He points out that sports today are different from years ago, and these changes are not necessarily good ones.  And much of that has to do with the growing influence money now plays in the world of sports.

Leitch shares many a story, some personal, others forwarded through Deadspin, to illustrate these flaws in the sports world.  He also notes out that we, as fans, hold the ultimate chit in changing these flaws, through our decisions to buy tickets, watch television and patronize sponsors.

I was particularly interested in Leitch’s section on the media.  He details off-the-air encounters by famous personalities, most of which are known to those who visit his site.  He takes shots at ESPN.  And like many of us, points out how its mega growth has clouded its judgement, especially how it covers events based more on promoting the ESPN brand then the sport itself.  He tries to support the case that the World Wide Leader is more interested in controversy and confrontation over informed analysis.  And he points to those who were let go for not heeding the ESPN message.

Leitch does a good job in detailing the problems with sports media today.  Where God Save the Fan falls short is that after all the dissection of the ills within sports and the media, he really doesn’t offer many solutions.  It would have been helpful for Leitch to take the role as head of ESPN and come up with concrete, constructive ways to make ESPN better.  Maybe that will be in God Save the Fan 2.

Leitch is spot on toward the end of the book in his evaluation of blogs and how they are viewed negatively by those in the mainstream sports media.  I agree with him that blogs offer everyone a voice, and that’s important to the discourse of the country.

Leitch has done well by Deadspin and God Save the Fan will be a winner with his fans.  But Leitch missed an opportunity to not just be funny, but to use his influence to do some good in devising ways to make sports better.  That gesture would have not only lent Deadspin more credibility in particular, but by association all sports blogs in general.  That’s too bad.