Hey everyone. As a lot of you have heard, there are some big (read: pretty awful) changes afoot at SB Nation. The company announced that it's going to lay off nearly all of its writers who live in California or work on a site that covers a California-based team, citing a new law in the state that limits how much work a freelancer can do per year. While the law's intent is certainly good--preventing contractors from being exploited so that businesses can stack up more money is an undeniably correct ethical and legal stance--it means that, in practice, websites like SB Nation are going to get crunched.
Instead of having a boss who's responsible at each site, the new system will see a staff of maybe two dozen employees spreading themselves across every SB Nation blog in California, of which I think there are about 25. This new setup is going to really mess up these sites; instead of a dedicated team that's built up expertise on and links to the team it covers, there will be some harried writer trying to get the bare minimum done to keep the ship afloat. It's a huge blow to good sports journalism in the state.
This has been coming for awhile; SB Nation's business model, after all, is based on getting fans to create content for them at insanely below-market rates. None of us who write for an SB Nation site started doing it for money; we're all here because we love the team we write about and want to create or preserve an online space for fellow fans to talk shop. Allowing Vox, Inc. (SB Nation's parent company) to profit off our labor feels a little bit gross, yeah, but ultimately worth it to keep these communities alive and thriving.
What this means for Viola Nation right now isn't much of anything. Fiorentina is obviously not in California, and none of the current staff lives in California, so we'll all continue business as usual. What we do expect, though, is that other states in the US will be watching this law very carefully and could enact similar measure of their own if they like what they see. If that happens, Mike and Adam and I would probably be shuffled off, replaced by someone who's covering all the Serie A, Liga BBVA, and Bundesliga teams simultaneously. Given that Fiorentina is perhaps the "smallest" team that has its own SB Nation site (which is a source of tremendous pride to me and an indication of everyone's love of this team), VN would probably become the sort of place that just translates whatever's at Violanews into English. The current staff would have the option to stay on as "Community Insiders" and write whenever we wanted, but to be frank, I don't think I'd stick around to see this website that I love and have worked very hard for get neutered like that.
But to repeat, the changes here don't mean anything for Viola Nation right now. If we get any news about impending structural alterations in the company that will affect this site, we will tell you as soon as we're able. If you've got any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments here. Our inbox is also always open at email@example.com if you'd rather talk that way. No matter what, though, we love you all.