Out magazine editor in chief Phillip Picardi has threatened to resign in a long-simmering struggle over the magazine’s unpaid freelance writers.
Multiple sources told The Daily Beast on Monday that Picardi has recently told the company’s owner, Pride Media, he will leave the 27-year-old magazine if the dozens of freelance contributors were not compensated.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast that matters came to a head late last week when some employees had serious concerns that the publication wouldn’t make payroll. “Phillip told Adam [Levin Pride Media CEO] that he couldn’t continue to work for him when he was exploiting queer people for their labor,” said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Over the past year, the magazine has been locked in a bizarre intra-company battle between writers and photographers with a web of companies and individuals all seemingly blaming each other for the missed payments.
Three sources with direct knowledge told The Daily Beast that the magazine’s June/July edition—viewed as especially important because it coincides with WorldPride in New York City and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—appeared in jeopardy of not getting printed because of funding concerns.
Picardi and a spokesperson for Out magazine separately declined to comment. Pride Media chairman Adam Levin did not respond to a request for comment.
According to The New York Times, higher-ups at Pride Media blame McCarthy Media, which in 2017 bought Grand Editorial, the company that pays Out’s contributors. McCarthy Media in turn blamed Pride Media, saying it had violated its contract and owed the company several hundred thousand dollars.
Earlier this year, Pride Media filed a lawsuit against McCarthy and Aaron Hicklin, who sold Grand Editorial to McCarthy. According to WWD, the lawsuit claimed that Pride Media has been unfairly criticized by McCarthy's owner Evanly Schindler, and has taken a hit from advertisers because of the negative press surrounding freelancer payments.
The dispute has led to a large public outcry from writers, editors, and photographers, dozens of whom were paid late or not at all.
Picardi, a protégé of Anna Wintour’s and one of the most prominent young magazine editors, only joined Out late last year.
The Daily Beast has learned that Wintour has even offered advice to her former mentee.
“She told him to hire a lawyer,” a source with knowledge of the situation said.
Picardi has publicly criticized Pride Media for failing to compensate freelancers.
“I entered this position unaware of the full extent of this situation but remain optimistic about and committed to its resolution. My team and I stand together in rebuilding this brand on a foundation we can all be proud of,” he wrote in a tweet earlier this year.