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The Athletic's Longhorns beat writer Kaelen Jones was laid off.

The Athletic, a modern, digital-only site that covers sports primarily in the United States, laid off 46 people, including its Austin-based University of Texas beat writer, Kaelen Jones.


The sports journalism business continues to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, although sports across the world are beginning, gradually, to come back to competition.

(Kaelen Jones/Twitter)

Jones announced that he'd been laid off via Twitter on Friday, writing that he had an "extremely fortuitous career path. Unfortunately, my time with The Athletic is up. Couldn't be more appreciative of the opportunity covering one of the most iconic college football programs."

Stewart Mandel, who is editor of The Athletic's college sports coverage, posted on Twitter that "Kaelen is one of the most talented young reporters I've ever met. He took on a huge challenge, moved to Austin TX to cover a major college team and wowed us all. He will be a star for many years to come."

The Athletic layoffs represented about 8% of the workforce for the company, which was created in 2016. An Athletic editor posted on the site after the layoffs were announced that UT coverage would be a point of emphasis with the staff's national college writers.

But with few events to cover—and news outlets struggling around the country—the sports journalism industry is bleeding jobs.

Also on Friday, at least 10 editorial employees with the sports site SB Nation confirmed they had taken a buyout from Vox Media. The company had furloughed 9% of its workforce in April for three months. Most of the impacted employees worked for Vox's sports-specific site.

The Maven, the company that bought and has attempted to remake iconic Sports Illustrated magazine last year, told the Securities and Exchange Commission in a Friday filing that it would be instituting temporary, staff-wide pay cuts.

Locally, the Austin American-Statesman laid off a sportswriter and six others in late April.

But sports are beginning to come back after coronavirus-mandated hibernation.

On Monday, UT upperclassmen football players who lived off campus began orientation to prep for new COVID-19 workout guidelines. Underclassmen will take the same orientation next week.

The Big 12 is allowing voluntary off-season workouts to begin June 15, intending to start the season on time.

The PGA, after a more than three-month competitive hiatus, will have its first tournament this week—the Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth's Colonial Golf Club.

The NBA and Major League Baseball still are in the process of deciding when to restart.

The Athletic was supposed to be a new digital news business model that would be profitable.

Instead, with few live sports to cover, the digital site also ordered pay cuts for the remaining staff. Alex Mather, the CEO of The Athletic, told his staff that new subscriptions had dropped by 20-30% and advertising for the company-branded podcasts had been "severely impacted."

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