The Hurley Edition: Pete Blackburn Talks Fox Sports Layoffs, Power Of Twitter, How To Pronounce GIF

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s a new era for sports media, and Pete Blackburn figures to be at the front of the wave.

Granted, he’s not exactly a part of that wave at this exact moment, after he — along with the entire writing staff — was laid off by Fox Sports at the end of June. Given that he’s got some free time, he joined Michael Hurley for a new episode of The Hurley Edition to discuss the ever-changing landscape of the sports media.

Both Hurley and Blackburn — well, especially Blackburn — found Fox Sports’ decision to go all-video to be a bit perplexing.

“To eliminate the entire digital editorial staff — which, by the way, was a really really good team of people, a lot of talented people over there — it was a good site. And we put out good work. And it was profitable,” Blackburn said. “That’s something that not a lot of digital publications can say. … And you’d think that a company like Fox would be one of the few companies that could afford to invest in both the writing and video side. It was all just bizarre to me.

“And on top of that, a week later, the guy who orchestrated all the layoffs gets fired for sexual harassment in the workplace.”

On the topic of how he became internet famous for posting GIFs, Blackburn said that really anybody could have done it.

“It’s been pretty easy the entire time,” Blackburn said with regard to the technology behind his GIFs. “I cut off like maybe 20 to 30 seconds in the process over the years, but it was always pretty simple. I’m an idiot, so if I’m doing it, it’s not that hard.”

Countless outlets take his GIFs and use them as free content to populate their websites. Yet Blackburn — who has over 53,000 followers on Twitter — has found the popularity that comes with that process to be quite useful in his life.

“Basically, every job that I’ve had has come through Twitter. Or at least, partially a reason because of it is Twitter,” Blackburn said. “So it’s been super, super valuable to me. I haven’t applied to a lot of places. They offer me positions or offer me an interview. So I’m super, super lucky in that sense. So Twitter has basically been the single most valuable tool for me professionally.”

Of course, being on Twitter can be dangerous, which Blackburn learned when he tweeted what he felt was a harmless joke about Barron Trump back in January. A petition was drawn up to have him fired, and though he kept his job, it was dicey.

“They wanted to fire me. The president of Fox wanted to fire me,” Blackburn said. “My editor and the guy who hired me at Fox Sports had to have a sitdown meeting with the president of Fox and they were basically like, ‘He’s valuable. He can be an idiot, but we shouldn’t fire him.’ … That whole ordeal was crazy. I was getting death threats everywhere. They would find my Facebook, send me messages on Instagram, they would email me, petitions, everywhere.”

Blackburn was able to escape with just a one-week Twitter suspension.

Pete also spoke with authority on the correct pronunciation of “GIF,” shared how he incidentally got Chris Christie very angry, his maturity with regard to media beefs, how Twitter spawned a friendship between him and an adult film star, and much more.

You can listen to The Hurley Edition by subscribing on iTunes, listening on Stitcher, listening in the audio player above this post or on the CBS Boston audio page!

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