A new trend? Going the ‘1099’ all-freelance route to save a magazine

Is it an isolated incident, or a new business model for publishing?

OUT* magazine this week laid off its entire editorial staff, giving them the slim cushion of one month’s severance pay.

But not to worry; Editor-in-Chief Aaron Hicklin says he plans to hire back “most” of the 12 staffers—as contracted freelancers.  Of course, the newly transformed positions carry no full-time paychecks or benefits.

The move comes as Hicklin’s fledgling company, Grand Editorial, assumes the magazine’s operations as a contractor for embattled publisher Here Media, a division of Regent Entertainment, which acquired the title in 2008.

On the plus-side, Hicklin puts a positive spin on things by pointing out staffers will have “flexible hours,” and the opportunity to work on other projects for his new editorial agency.

Despite Hicklin’s insistence that the job changes are not a cost-cutting measure, it’s well known that Out faces the same financial pressures afflicting most magazines.  How long before other mid-size publications take a glossy page from Out’s playbook?

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