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The Case of Surfline V. Lewis Samuels

lewis samuels power rankings

You gotta love a good old fashioned pissing match every now and again. Serving as a welcome departure from the chronic “bro,bra-ism” that plagues the surf industry, we have an entertaining little public feud going between Surfline and their recently-axed writer Lewis Samuels, as well as a healthy debate opening up about what each represents. On one side you have Surfline, swell-marketers with good content who recently partnered up with ESPN. On the other side you have Lewis Samuels, a passionate and edgy writer who, agree with him or not, was unique and unafraid to say what was on his mind. The firing came after Samuels recently wrote a couple of posts on his own personal website that weren’t exactly advertiser-friendly or conducive to Surfline’s goal of getting you and I to hand over $70 a year. After sending Samuels out the door, Surfline received a slew of e-mails regarding the issue and felt the need to justify their decision. The evidence lies below, suss it out and see what you think:


FIRED (Samuels clearly knew and didn’t care the Surfline Corporation wouldn’t take this too well)

“So the word came down from the higher-ups at Surfline that my signed contract for 2009 was no longer being honored. They specifically cited two incidents that led to my termination…”

“Yes. I know, I get paid to write for Surfline, a website that also licks advertisers’ balls, part of the machine.”

“In the recent Surfline article “Tavarua Time” we’re shown pictures of Billabong’s CEO Paul Naude scoring perfect waves…..Theoretically, there should be no problem with this. Billabong is a core surf brand, and the fact that their CEO is a core surfer should make us feel good, right? That might have been the case a year ago. But now, this article seems a bit off to me…”



-Surfline’s Statement Concerning Lewis Samuels (a new standard has been set for back-handed compliments)

“We enjoyed the contributions Lewis made to Surfline, and looked forward to working with him for years to come. The material he submitted (although often controversial), was, for the most part, well received…..Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the blog did not possess the standard of journalism that our readers demand from Surfline and that we believe is so important to uphold.”

There are quite a few interesting and entertaining opinions flying around regarding this little tiff and I’m super curious to hear more. I’ll personally just say this….Thank god I work for a site where passion, individuality, and unique opinions are embraced and encouraged. Hopefully we don’t ever get so big and money hungry that making fun of ourselves becomes a fireable offense.


Posted by Shaun on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 in Surfing.

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3 Responses to “The Case of Surfline V. Lewis Samuels”

  • Rayson Says:

    Surfline, and any other publication, that caters their content around advertisers instead of their audience, sucks. They will be dead in the water in due time. The barrier to entry for new publishers is too low now which gives many who will speak the truth the opportunity to speak it. And we as readers will choose that over content that panders to advertisers.

  • JM Says:

    People don’t go to Surfline to read anything because there is almost nothing interesting to read. The site has no soul left.. not that it ever had much but things like the PowerRanking made people come back.

    However they have a few cool videos but very poor interfaces to watch them… Their Flash content that force you to watch their advert sucks and is slow… Bad programming, mistimed preloading and image optimization are to blame… they need to hire a usability specialist and move to a LAMP platform. I thought Lewis Samuel was also a usability guy. Maybe he could work for surfline again, this time to rethink their site architecture which needs a complete overhaul.

    Overall Surfline sucks on many levels, including choice of technology, but somehow we keep going back to it, at least once every 2 weeks or so, knowing it will suck… I wonder why?

    Maybe for the very occasional good stuff that may pleasantly surprise us?

  • Bob Says:

    Surfline has become so totally commercial over the past few years it is comical.

    You can’t view anything without being forced to watch lame advertising first.
    It kind of reminds me of some teen magazine or something similar.

    I am really not sure who they are catering to but I cannot imagine it is not anyone over 14 years old.

    The cams are a joke also.

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