Sports Illustrated announced on Friday that its laying off most, if not all, of its union-represented staff. The notice came from the magazine’s union members who shared it on social media.
The Sports Illustrated Union and The NewsGuild of New York announced in a joint statement that employees were notified on Friday that the Arena Group, publisher of Sports Illustrated, “is planning to lay off a significant number, possibly all, of the Guild-represented workers at SI.”
Arena Group said in a regulatory filing that it had missed a payment to Authentic Brands Group on the license to operate Sports Illustrated, once the preeminent source for sports journalism, and thus had lost the license to publish.
In a post on X/Twitter, the unions wrote, “”This is another difficult day in what has been a difficult four years for Sports Illustrated under Arena Group (previously The Maven) stewardship. We are calling on ABG to ensure the continued publication of SI and allow it to serve our audience in the way it has for nearly 70 years.”
Last year, the magazine was embroiled in scandal after it became known that it was using artificial intelligence to produce some of its stories, under the names of fake writers.
In December, CEO Ross Levinsohn was fired by The Arena Group’s board of directors. Also fired was Operations President and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Kraft, Media President Rob Barrett, and the corporation’s counsel, Julie Fenster.
The magazines, published since 1954, also lost sight of its main audience when it put a photo of a transgender on the cover for its swimsuit edition, starting with Leyna Bloom in 2021 and Kim Petras in 2023, and also started using clinically obese models in swimsuits in its annual world-famous swimsuit edition, which has been published since 1964. All this was reminiscent of the Bud Light transgender marketing faux pas — an effort to be more in line with “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” goals. The cover of the 2022 swimsuit edition featured a heavy-set model.