Last month, Sports Illustrated announced that it would be firing its entire staff because of a missed payment from its publisher. SI has been the beacon of sports journalism for more than 50 years. It has managed to stay relevant and profitable throughout the digital revolution, scaling back on its print magazine and focusing on digital media.

Even as newsrooms shrank across the country, SI maintained a high quality staff full of talented writers such as Bob Harig, Emma Baccelieri and Tom Verducci. This begs the question: why would an institutional publication with a fully staffed newsroom miss a payment to its publisher and essentially shut down?

The answer is simple: greed and ignorance. When Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith corporation in 2018, the conglomerate immediately sold SI to Authentic Brands Group. The founder of Authentic Brands, Jamie Salter, said that SI “stands for something that is hard – when you’re building brands – to get: It has authenticity. It has authority. It has respect.”

Salter made clear that Authentic Brands was never interested in SI the magazine, merely SI the brand. He would go on to mention creating SI branded medical clinics, sports-skills training classes, resorts and a sportsbook. The first Sports Illustrated Resort is currently under development in Tuscaloosa, AL, and SI Sportsbook is operational in three states.

Authentic Brands was so disinterested in the magazine that it licensed publishing rights to The Arena Group for $15 million per year. This arrangement had been in place since 2019, and was functional until a hostile takeover of Arena by 5-hour Energy owner Manoj Bhargava.

In Bhargava’s first all-hands speech as the controlling shareholder, he told employees that “the amount of useless stuff you guys do is staggering.” Soon after, most top executives left the company and Bhargava was named interim CEO.

Cutting costs became a top priority for Bhargava, planning to do so by withholding payments in an attempt to negotiate a new price with Authentic Brands. Unsurprisingly, this did not succeed. But it was the writers, not Bhargava, who paid the price.

Sports Illustrated, once the pinnacle of sports journalism, is now without a staff and without a home. Meanwhile, the SI logo is brandished over online sports books and hotels, and the magazine finds itself at the center of the very controversies it used to uncover.

Longtime SI investigations editor Sandy Pawde recently told The Atlantic “Nobody said anything about money… We just said we need X amount of people to move, move, move, move—and do it. And the budget was there.” The days of unlimited newsroom budgets are gone, and they are not coming back.

Sports Illustrated is one of many publications to be killed by corporate greed. In fact, a 2021 Financial Times report found that private equity has taken control of about half of the media industry since 2008. As a PR professional and a concerned citizen, this is an alarming trend that puts the future of journalism at risk.