The NewsGuild union, which represents many of the affected employees, expressed its concerns in a letter that it made public on Thursday, questioning whether the layoffs would “not only be sudden and devastating to the staff directly impacted, but severely compromise the ability of the remaining staff to put out a quality product, thus imperiling the future of Sports Illustrated.”
A group of Sports Illustrated staff members also objected to having Maven at the helm. They said in a statement that the company “wants to replace top journalists in the industry with a network of Maven freelancers and bloggers, while reducing or eliminating departments that have ensured that the stories we publish and produce meet the highest standards.”
In June, Maven named Ross Levinsohn the chief executive of Sports Illustrated. Mr. Levinsohn, previously an executive at Fox News and Yahoo, was formerly the publisher of The Los Angeles Times during a period of unrest in the newsroom.
On Tuesday, in an email obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Levinsohn told the Sports Illustrated staff that Chris Stone, a 27-year veteran of the magazine and its editor in chief, would leave the publication but was “considering an offer” from Maven. Mr. Stone did not respond to requests for comment.
In Mr. Stone’s place, two staff members, Steve Cannella and Ryan Hunt, were elevated to co-editors in chief, the email said.
“We care deeply — as we know all of you do — about the excellent work SI does and the power and prestige it carries for us, our audience and for the people we cover,” Mr. Levinsohn wrote.
Through a spokesman, Mr. Levinsohn declined to comment on Thursday.
In an email to the staff on Wednesday, Mr. Cannella and Mr. Hunt said, “Our goal is simple: to double down on the best of what Sports Illustrated has always been known for — unparalleled journalism and powerful storytelling — while creating a new company that’s built for success in the 21st century and beyond.”