FanSided, SI’s Grubby Little Sibling, Isn’t Paying Workers The Pittances They’re Owed

Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG)

FanSided—the scuzzy content mill attached to Sports Illustrated, which is itself owned by the Koch-brothers-backed Meredith Corporation—has long exploited the workers whose output allows FanSided to exist, selling young writers on the idea of writing solely for “exposure.” Most FanSided workers are unpaid “contributors.” A lucky few are “site experts,” a title given to those who manage sites devoted to a specific team—duties include writing blogs, coordinating with contributors, publishing content on social media. In return, FanSided pays these site experts a small monthly check based on how many page views their sites get. The checks aren’t much, with sources saying $75 is generally the maximum, but at least it’s something. Right now, though, many site experts who have met FanSided’s requirements aren’t even getting that.

Deadspin obtained internal emails from site experts who have gone months without receiving their due payments and are furious—at the non-payments themselves, and at FanSided’s failure to rectify the situation or even provide an explanation of what is going on. Deadspin also discussed the payment problems with several current and former site experts, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to lose their positions or jeopardize future employment.

To be eligible for any amount of money, site experts say, a site needs to have published 50 posts in that month. Even when site experts do meet the threshold, though, their checks are depressingly meager and don’t reflect the hard work that goes into running a site owned by a massive media corporation. FanSided protocol states that the company has 60 days from the end of the month to pay its site experts. (So, for example, the check for January’s work normally comes by March.) Often, the checks come sooner than that. Recently, that hasn’t been the case.

On March 14, NBA league editor Josh Wilson emailed site experts to inform them of a possible delay in payment, and that everyone should expect their checks by March 20 at the latest.

March 20 came and went with some site experts never receiving their checks. Some of them started reaching out to one another through an editors listserv to figure out what was going on, and the email chain of unpaid site experts began to grow …

… and grow …

… and grow. Eventually, FanSided’s senior personnel director Aaron Somers had to beg people to stop adding to the thread.

Site experts were pissed.

“They’re just trying to keep a lid on everything so we don’t tell anyone,” one site expert told Deadspin. “I don’t mind not getting paid for it, I like writing overall, it’s just that I hate that they’re taking advantage of us. I hate how they’re handling the whole situation.”

At some point, FanSided CEO and co-founder Zach Best—who previously referred to his glorified digital sweatshop as an “iconic brand” on par with the likes of Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly in a triumphant letter announcing Time Inc.’s purchase of FanSidedstepped in to do some damage control.

It didn’t escape the site experts’ notice that Best’s email wasn’t an apology, nor did it explain why the money never came. Further, it provided only a vague promise for a “new system” for payroll.

“It might not seem like a lot [of money] but to some it really matters,” a former site expert told Deadspin. “It seems like FanSided is just kind of dragging them around.”

“The biggest problem for me is that they’ve been telling us that the checks have been shipped […] and it must have gotten lost along the way,” another site expert told Deadspin. “And then we find out that everyone has been dealing with the same thing. I feel like it’s really fishy.”

I emailed Zach Best, Aaron Somers, and Meredith Corp. spokeswoman Kari Stephenson to ask why the workers haven’t been paid and what they were doing to rectify the problem. They did not respond.

Know anything we should know about FanSided? Contact the writer at [email protected] or through SecureDrop for extra security.


more recommended stories

  • Von Miller Avoids Charges For Bloody Shark Photo; Boat Owner Gets Two Counts

    Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller won’t.

  • Something Bad’s Going To Happen In That Crypt, Huh?

    We’re now two episodes into the.

  • Brett Anderson Had The Best Seat In The House For The Athletics’ Chaotically Beautiful Double Play

    One of the many things that.

  • Aaron Judge Becomes Another Name On A Long List Of Injured Yankees

    Photo: Julio Cortez (AP Photo) Aaron.

  • Columbus Blue Jackets Affiliate Upsets Tampa Bay Lightning Affiliate In Game 1 Of AHL Playoffs

    If you missed the chance to.

  • MLS, Which Is Definitely Not A Ponzi Scheme, Wants To Expand By Adding Three New Teams For $200 Million Each

    Photo: John Minchillo (Getty) Are you:.

  • Warren Foegele Injured TJ Oshie With A Hard Shove In The Back And Was Only Given A Two-Minute Minor Penalty

    With just over five minutes left.

  • Oakland’s Lou Trivino Continues To Do Filthy Things On The Mound

    In just his second season pitching.

  • Vote In The Name Of The Year Sweet Sixteen

    With plenty of real estate remaining.

  • Ajax Have Slain Cristiano Ronaldo, Giant Of The Champions League

    Photo: Michael Steele (Getty) For only.

  • Joel Embiid Couldn’t Keep A Straight Face While Apologizing For His Elbow On Jarrett Allen

    Photo: Chris Szagola (AP) Joel Embiid.

  • Enes Kanter Saved The Blazers From Getting Swept For A Third Straight Year

    One of the hallmarks of surprise.

  • The Refs Lost Control As The Bruins And Maple Leafs Tried To Kill Each Other

    The Bruins took Game 2 against.

  • Sharks’ Logan Couture Is Thankful He Didn’t Lose A Testicle When A Hockey Puck Hit Him In The Dick And Balls

    Down 4-3 in the second period,.

  • Ex-NFL Players Now Have To Jump Through Even More Hoops To Collect Concussion Settlement Money

    Photo: Ronald Martinez (Getty) A new.

  • Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane Didn’t Have To Embarrass Philipp Grubauer Like That

    Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane decided that.

  • Gerard Piqué Is Barcelona’s Other Superman

    Photo: Stu Forster (Getty Images) It.

  • The New York Rangers Will Have The Easiest Decision Of The NHL Draft

    Photo: Kevin Light (Getty) The New.

  • Marcell Ozuna Lands Flat On Face While Trying To Stop Homer

    In the top of the eighth.

  • Virginia’s Ugly Basketball Now Has Undeniable Results

    Photo: Streeter Lecka (Getty Images) In.

  • WrestleMania Is Too Damn Long

    There will be differing opinions on.

  • Paris Saint-Germain’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting Delivers A Strong Contender For Miss Of The Season

    Cameroonian international Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has.

  • Idiot In The Ring Tackles Bret Hart During WWE Hall Of Fame Ceremony

    Tonight’s WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.

  • Three Years After Resigning Over “Inappropriate Relationship,” Tyler Summitt Hired As Former Player And Current Wife’s Assistant

    Photo: Getty This morning, the Fairborn.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo Proved Something To Joel Embiid

    Photo: Matt Slocum (Getty) Everyone’s just.

  • Wealthy Dad Who Bought Harvard Fencing Coach’s House Insists It Had Nothing To Do With His Son Getting Into Harvard

    Peter Brand’s house in Needham, which.

  • Gregg Popovich Gets Himself Ejected Just 63 Seconds Into Spurs Game

    Screenshot: YouTube Spurs head coach and.

  • Possibly Nothing Is More Grating Than The Noise Of Paulie Malignaggi Talking Shit

    You can decide for yourself the degree.

  • The History And Future Of The Franchise Tag, The Bane Of The NFL’s Best Players

    Photo: Patrick McDermott (Getty) The top.

  • Something Weird Is Happening With UNC Women’s Basketball

    Photo: Mel Evans (AP) The University.

  • Coach K’s Trust In R.J. Barrett Ruins Duke’s Final Four Dreams

    Photo: Alex Brandon (AP Photo) With.

  • Carsen Edwards Went Full Supernova For Purdue And Somehow It Wasn’t Enough 

    Photo: Kevin C. Cox (Getty) An.