INTO, the online LGBT magazine owned and operated by gay dating app Grindr, laid its editorial staff off this week, effectively ending the digital publication’s 17-month run.
“The company will be refocusing its efforts on video and as such, the editorial and social teams were let go this morning,” a joint statement from several INTO employees said. “We feel that INTO’s closure is a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world.”
An anonymous source told Out Magazine that Grindr President Scott Chen laid off both INTO’s editorial and social staff Tuesday morning without warning.
INTO, which launched in August 2017, published news articles, op-eds and advice columns geared toward LGBT readers. The site’s journalism won awards from the National Lesbian Gay Journalism Association and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
“[The National Lesbian Gay Journalism Association] is saddened to hear of the layoff at @Into. For those affected, please reach out to NLGJA if there is anything we can do to help you. Thank you for telling LGBTQ stories,” NLGJA wrote on twitter.
This follows the departure of Grindr’s chief content officer, Zach Stafford, who also served as the publication’s editor-in-chief, as well as the app’s head of communications, Landon Rafe Zumwalt.
“After a thoughtful and collaborative process, we decided to modify INTO’s content mix to rely more heavily on video. This decision was driven by the high user engagement and development we see through channels such as video and YouTube,” the layoff announcement email read.
“We aimed to give a voice to those who need one now more than ever, a platform for them to see themselves represented wholly,” the staff responded in a statement.
Grindr’s dismissal of INTO’s editorial staff comes just six weeks after the site broke the story about Grindr President Scott Chen’s controversial comments about same-sex marriage.
"Some people think the marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman, and I think so too. But that's your own business," Chen wrote on Nov. 26 in a Facebook post. "Some people think the purpose of the marriage is to have a child carries your own DNA. But again, this is your own business."
Chen, who has been an executive at Grindr since Chinese gaming company Kunlun took over the app in 2017, shot back at INTO’s story in the comments section, saying the Grindr-owned news source took his marriage comments out of context.
Chen’s comments, however, led to at least one executive leaving the company in protest.
“As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am and everything I believe,” Grindr’s then head of communications, Landon Rafe Zumwalt said after stepping down.
All three of the publication’s full-time editorial employees are affected by the layoffs, including Managing Editor Trish Bendix and Politics Reporter Nico Lang, as well as all contract writers.
“Working in LGBTQ media (or maybe even just media) can make you feel like a stunt queen living for the drama with announcements such as this. I am, as my now former colleague Nico Maupin has coined, "pivoting to unemployment" with this news,” Bendix said on Facebook.
“I am sad for LGBTQ content creators who are now without a platform and a place to pay them fairly and quickly for highly-specific and personal stories, and for faithful readers who seemed to appreciate our worldwide approach to underreported queer and trans issues,” Bendix went on to state.
When asked about the layoffs of INTO’s editorial staff, Zumwalt said he was not surprised and called it “extremely sad for the queer community.” When asked whether he thought the closure could be related to INTO’s Chen article, Zumwalt said “no comment,” according to NBC.