A Messy Exit for the EIC of AfterEllen

Severance package withdrawn; dismissal date moved up.

Quantitatively, what occurred this week on the West Coast is not on the level of the events that transpired last week at New Jersey Media Group, Guardian US and The Daily Dot. Qualitatively however, it falls very much in line with the growing problem of digital media revenue shortfalls.

HitFix, acquired earlier this year by Woven Digital, dismissed film critic Drew McWeeny, editor in chief Richard Rushfield and several others. Meanwhile, AfterEllen, the well-respected LGBTQ website sold a few years ago by Viacom to Evolve Media, jettisoned editor in chief Trish Bendix.

According to Bendix, she was given permission by Evolve’s TotallyHer Media to share the news of her exit. However, when she did so Tuesday via Tumblr, she framed it as essentially the end of the website. That prompted Evolve to send her a reprimand via email while assuring AfterEllen readers Wednesday that “False Rumor: We Are Not Shutting Down!

Per a report by Bill Browning for lgbtqnation.com, the way this all went down led Evolve to withdraw a three-week severance pay package for Bendix and fire her Tuesday rather than allow her to, as planned, work the rest of this week:

Bendix says there’s no difference between what she said and what [TotallyHer Media general manager Emrah] Kovacoglu posted. Publishers “are saying I misrepresented what is happening when he essentially reiterated the same thing,” she said.

“The site will have no full or part-time editors. It will stay up with evergreen content and ‘occasional freelancing in the future.’ So it’s frustrating that they want to trick readers.”

Bendix’s Tumblr post is full of interesting information to ponder and includes the following comparisons near the top:

Evolve Media gave us two fiscal years to become their LGBT property and profit in that space, and they found we are not as profitable as moms and fashion. And, yes, “they” are mainly white heterosexual men, which is important to note because not only is this the story for us, but for a lot of other properties—large-scale media outlets, lesbian bars out-priced by neighborhoods they helped establish, housing in queer meccas like Portland that is being turned into condos and AirBNBs.