The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The possible death of Sports Illustrated is a sign of a bigger issues in journalism

The news of enormous layoffs at popular American sports magazine Sports Illustrated jumped out of nowhere for us. It was a shocking development for fans of the historic magazine, and yet another traumatic blow to an industry being torn apart at its seams.

Talk of the mass layoffs came after the news that The Arena Group, the publisher of Sports Illustrated, failed to pay “its licensing fees to the magazine’s parent company,” reported NPR.

It is the second time in recent years that major layoffs have hit Sports Illustrated. Back in 2019, S.I. laid off 30 percent of their staff when media conglomerate Meredith Corporation sold the company to Authentic Brands Group.

The term “media conglomerate” is one that makes news media employees shudder. Now, something that once seemed to hurt small newspapers has begun to destroy legacy news media.

Many small newspapers across the country have been bought up and shut down by media conglomerates like the newspaper company Gannett. What Gannett is doing has created a phenomenon called news deserts, which has been a blinking red dot on the radar of journalists and other industry professionals for quite some time.

One-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will be out of business by 2025, according to research made public Wednesday from Northwestern University’s Medill School,” reported The Washington Post.

It is clear this is not just a Sports Illustrated issue, it is a journalistic news issue. With more and more reputable news outlets closing due to insufficient funding or being bought out and then shut down by these media conglomerates, the news landscape is becoming increasingly bare.

This egregious error from The Arena Group is disappointing to say the least. We feel their poor financial decision making is now threatening an entire community of sports fans. Like a lot of people, many of us grew up reading Sports Illustrated and consider it an iconic publication within pop culture. To witness it being treated with such neglect is disheartening to us as a fellow news publication. 

Today, magazines like Sports Illustrated have been reduced to ash, representing a forgotten time of serious and engaging short-form print journalism.

Magazines used to be places that curated the world of information into something you could hold in your hand and now that role is filled by the likes of Google, Facebook and TikTok,” wrote Peter Kafka in Business Insider

As prospective journalists, we find the grim reality that legacy publishing outlets are facing as worrisome. What does the future of our chosen profession look like? How are we supposed to navigate this tumultuous landscape when the powers that be actively reject smart, passionate journalists? These questions are anxiety inducing and, as of right now, the answers are certainly unclear.

We worry these shutdowns are chipping away at the future of journalism. We value news in ways that money-hungry corporations care little for. Losing trusted local outlets and national brands that offer local, political, world, pop culture and sports news hurts everyone. These shutdowns create major media deserts that do not benefit anyone: readers, writers and publishers alike. 

Media outlets serve an important purpose in keeping the general public informed, something crucial to the existence of a functioning society and healthy democracy. Keep your head on a swivel. If Sports Illustrated falls, who knows what company is next in line for the chopping block.

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