The Athletic lays off Longhorns writer Kaelen Jones and others in another blow to pandemic-era sports journalism
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.
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."
I've had an extremely fortuitous career path. Unfortunately, my time with The Athletic is up. Couldn't be more appr… https://t.co/n2bORc1Nvz— Kaelen Jones (@Kaelen Jones) 1591377359.0
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."
Kaelen is one of the most talented young reporters I've ever met. He took on a huge challenge, moved to Austin TX t… https://t.co/IvvP2kdTWx— Stewart Mandel (@Stewart Mandel) 1591382747.0
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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Despite a 2-0 deficit, there was a pot of gold for Austin FC after all as it celebrated its annual Pride Night with rainbows and a 2-2 comeback draw to FC Dallas Saturday night.
After three FC Dallas losses last season, the Dallas derby draw marks the first time Austin FC has tied against its Copa Texas rival. Austin continues to edge over FC Dallas as it sits at 3rd in the MLS West.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the match:
A somber start
Decked out in colorful hues for LBGTQ+ Pride, Verde fans started the match on a somber note as they held up banners to take a stand against gun violence before the match.
As the national anthem began, fans held up banners with the names of each child that was killed in the Uvalde school shooting and a plea to "end gun violence."
The supporters' section was also dotted with Pride flags and a "Bans off Our Bodies" banner in protest of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
FC Dallas earns a 2-0 lead
That sober tone continued onto the pitch. With midfielder Daniel Pereira's absence due to a red card, the Verde and Black lost two goals to FC Dallas by the 70th minute of play.
FC Dallas played it sneaky for the first half of the match, giving Austin FC plenty of room to hold possession as it waited to strike on a Verde error. That mentality proved dangerous for Austin as Dallas' Paul Arriola took advantage of Brad Stuver's deflection to score the first goal of the night in the 57th minute of play.
Dallas struck once more as Brandon Servant pushed past the Verde line to score the second goal of the match.
Austin FC strikes back
But energy quickly returned to Austin's favor thanks to Designated Player Sebastian Driussi, who scooted past several FC Dallas defenders alongside Moussa Djitte to snag an unlikely first goal for Austin.
A full Verde comeback
Austin's subs proved deadly as momentum returned to the home team toward the end of the match. A well-placed cross from Nick Lima—and a diving header from a fresh-legged Danny Hoesen—helped the team secure the draw with a second Verde goal in the 84th minute of play.
Hoesen, who was Austin's first starting striker last season, has now scored two goals with the team after a yearlong injury stuck him on the bench.
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Hours following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, on Friday, about 1,000 people gathered in Republic Square with signs calling for change.
The rally, organized by the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Texas, started at the federal courthouse on Republic Square on Friday at 5 p.m. before the crowd marched to the Texas Capitol. More protests are expected to ensue over the weekend.
People showed up with all types of signs like Mindy Moffa holding up, "Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers."
Austin joined cities across the country that saw protests for a women's right to an abortion after the ruling.
According to a recent UT poll, 78% of Texas voters support abortion access in most cases.
Sabrina Talghade and Sofia Pellegrini held up signs directed at Texas laws. A Texas trigger law will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, starting 30 days after the ruling. When state legislators passed the trigger law last summer, it also passed laws for more protection of firearms, including the right to open carry without a permit.
Lili Enthal of Austin yells as around 1,000 Texans marched to the Texas Capitol.
From the Texas Capitol, Zoe Webb lets her voice be heard against the Supreme Court ruling.
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