For the past five years, the media industry has been on a unionizing spree. This wave of worker empowerment—combined with the industry’s regular waves of layoffs, folding publications, and management shenanigans—have led many people to pine for the next evolution: Worker-owned media co-ops. Easier said than done. But now, the former writers of Deadspin have announced the launch of Defector Media, which will be an honest-to-goodness media co-op owned by the writers and editors themselves. It comes on the heels of a recent flowering of smaller writer-owned newsletters and sites like Discourse Blog, launched by former staffers of Splinter (where I used to work). Has the revolution in media arrived at last?
Deadspin had millions of loyal readers. Its employees got a ton of press when they resigned en masse last year after company executives (disclosure: the same company where I used to work) tried to limit their editorial freedom. That makes Defector the most high-profile media co-op project yet. It racked up more than 10,000 subscribers on the first day it was announced, an indication that this model may be financially viable after all.