Pride Month should be a time of celebratory windfall for one of the only LGTBQ publications in the country, but for Out magazine, it’s a time of continued uncertainty.
The magazine’s parent company Pride Media on Friday enacted another round of layoffs to the already small staff, WWD has learned. Five employees have been cut, including a longtime sales executive who’d been with the company for 20 years and led sales across the organization, including for Out and The Advocate. The others are thought to be in editorial at Out, which employs almost exclusively people within the LGTBQ community. This is the second round of layoffs to hit the magazine this year, with the first in February also claiming five positions and including a pay cut of 8 percent for all remaining staffers. Remaining staff is thought to be less than 20 at an outlet that publishes a print magazine 10 times a year and has a daily presence online.
A representative of Pride could not be reached for comment.
As for editor in chief Phillip Picardi, who Pride’s recently departed chief executive officer Nathan Coyle lured from Teen Vogue, he’s said to be hanging on, at least through Pride Month. Although Pride Media owner Adam Levin at the end of last week put out a press release about a cash injection from the company’s “existing investor base,” he did not specify how much had been raised or who the investors were. The money is set to be used to catch up on yet another bout of past-due freelancer bills and those due to “traffic partners.” Fellow queer sites like Pink News and AutoStraddle are said to be owed ad placement and commission fees. Levin said in the release that the funding was in part a “celebration of Pride month.”
While some unpaid freelancers and some planned Pride events that were in jeopardy for lack of funding are thought to have been paid since the funding came through, many others have not. The money is said to be in the process of being meted out. Levin told WWD last week, when it first reported on the shaky financial state of the company and the possibility of it being sold, that all freelancers would be caught up by last Friday and Pride would be back to “paying any freelancers in the normal course of business.”
Meanwhile, talk of the future of Out/Pride is still going on. There’s said to be a possibility of even further layoffs and taking Out and the Advocate to an all-freelance model, something Levin denied to WWD last week.
Sale talk is continuing as well, although again, Levin denied to WWD any such discussions or imminent plans. Levin claims that Pride has hit $10 million in revenue so far this year, putting it on track for its highest-grossing year in some time. He’s putting the blame for the company’s current financial state on “previous management.”
Nevertheless, there are thought to be parties within the queer community interested in taking control of the company. Should Out magazine go back under LGTBQ ownership, it’s thought that Picardi will stay on, along with those now few remaining staffers. For now, it all seems to depend on Levin, who is said to still be clinging to the possibility of Pride making a Reg A+ filing, known as a “mini-IPO” but closer to a regulated crowdfunding campaign, with the hopes of going fully public later on.
Success on that front seems unlikely, but the broader community is starting to rally around Out and The Advocate, leaving open the possibility that they will end up under new control at some point. Sarah Kate Ellis, ceo and president of GLAAD, took to Twitter last week calling both outlets “critical” to the LGTBQ community.
“We will not allow these brands to perish,” she wrote. “They deserve owners who can ensure LQTBQ journalism has a bright and long future.”
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