Trish Bendix is a writer and editor in Los Angeles, California. The former Editor in Chief of both AfterEllen.com and GO Magazine, Trish is the winner of the 2015 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBT Journalist of the Year from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association. She is also a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a member of the Television Critics Association as well as the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
I was just let go for the second time in three years.
The first time was two years ago, when I was editor-in-chief of AfterEllen.com, then the largest website dedicated to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women's content. I'd been with the publication in some capacity since 2007, working my way up from a freelance contributor to blog editor to managing editor. I had become the sole employee before Evolve Media, self-professed “enthusiast publishers,” let me go based on the site's “financial performance.”
And last week, I was among the eight full-time editorial and social staffers (as well as an additional eight contractors) laid off by Grindr when the dating app decided to shutter 18 months into its digital publication for the LGBT community. “As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr,” the company said in its statement. “After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify Into’s content mix to rely more heavily on video.”
But this is not just about me, or even just about AfterEllen and Into. Unfortunately, this kind of maneuver isn't anything new. Both major mainstream media companies and smaller, minority-focused independent entities have cut their staff in recent years, either shuttering entirely or making the dreaded “pivot to video.” In the past week alone, layoffs have been announced at BuzzFeed, Verizon’s media division (which includes brands like Yahoo, AOL, and HuffPost), and Gannett, which owns several newspapers across the country.
Just a few years ago, LGBT media was boasting a renaissance. Major outlets such as HuffPost, BuzzFeed News, and NBC News launched dedicated LGBT verticals (in 2011, 2013, and 2016, respectively), and print-first publications with massive circulations like Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times started covering LGBT topics more regularly.
But now, amid mass layoffs that have affected the media landscape at large, LGBT media finds itself in a state of flux. Two lauded sites (Grindr’s Into and Condé Nast’s Them, respectively), which were launched as alternatives to stodgier, more homogenous offerings, just saw their leaders leave after less than two years to reshape two of legacy gay media’s oldest titles. Meanwhile, digital sites with dedicated LGBT verticals are posting less and less content; as of 2017, HuffPost, for example, no longer has any staffer focusing full-time on LGBT coverage. As of just this morning, BuzzFeed laid off its Deputy LGBT Editor and LGBT Video Producer (the only openly trans staffer at BuzzFeed News), leaving just one remaining full-time U.S. staffer on the LGBT beat. Into isn’t producing any more editorial content at all, and all of Them’s founding editors have since left the publication (though a new executive editor, Whembley Sewell, was just announced).
And just like that, digital’s on the downturn and legacy media is the hot new ticket again — that is, for now. Read more via Buzzfeed