by Fred Kuhr
On the same day, Dec. 11, the editors in chief of two venerable community magazines, Out and The Advocate, announced that they are leaving their jobs at Pride Media, which owns both titles. In fact, as many as 11 staffers left the company, according to various media reports, including interim CEO Orlando Reece.
Phillip Picardi, the now-departed editor at Out, made the announcement on Twitter. “Today marks my last day at @outmagazine, just one year after I started,” he wrote. “This journey has been shorter and more complex than I had hoped, but it has been an honor to lead such an incredibly talented team of LGBTQ+ people. Each of us on the team for the Out relaunch firmly believes that LGBTQ+ media deserves the best. So that’s what we gave you: Our best.”
|Phillip Picardi, formerly of Out
Picardi left his position last year as editor of Condé Nast’s Teen Vogue to take over at Out. He also founded Them, an LGBTQ digital platform. He was often referred to as the protege of Anna Wintour, artistic director at Condé Nast. For now, Picardi will continue writing a men’s grooming column for GQ.
Zachary Stafford, editor at The Advocate, will stay in his position until January 2020, as will CEO Reese. Notably, they are the first African-American men to hold their respective positions.
Interestingly, while NBC News simply reported that Stafford and Picardi are “departing,” the New York Times reported that Picardi was “let go.” And these personnel disruptions come at a time when Pride Media — which is owned by Los Angeles-based private equity firm Oreva Capital — is experiencing financial troubles that are allegedly the cause of freelancers not getting paid. In fact, the National Writers’ Union filed suit against Pride Media earlier this year on behalf of 25 freelancers who were allegedly owed over $40,000 at the time of the filing.
Out now has five full-time employees, down from about 15 a year ago, former staffers told the New York Times. Stafford declined comment to the Times, as did Adam Levin, owner of Pride Media.
Some observers put the blame for the problems at the feet of Levin and Pride Media. For one, Aaron Hickin, a former editor in chief at Out for 12 years, told the Times that Picardi could have done a lot of good at the magazine, “But only if the people that own the magazine have and share the same interest as the team. I think it’s clear that, despite other issues, fundamentally, there was a misalignment between the top ownership, and they didn’t seem interested in what Out represented.”
While Levin denied that he was looking to sell the magazines earlier this year, these latest moves are boosting speculation that he will sell the titles, file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, or file for Chapter 7 liquidation, according to insiders who spoke to Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).
As previously reported by WWD, in order to acquire Here Media, Levin’s Oreva took out a high interest loan of somewhere between $10 million and $15 million from Chicago-based senior secured debt fund ExWorks Capital. But Oreva/Pride is reportedly still be missing interest payments, another signal of a lack of cash flow.
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