Ousted at "Out"

What Does Sarah Pettit's Firing Mean for the Nation's Largest Gay Magazine?

Scott is clearly willing to take the risk. ''This will be the year of circulation for us,'' he says. His goal is 250,000 readers--nearly double Out's total now, but only about half the 485,000 Details has. He's looking to increase ad revenues from companies in financial services, pharmaceuticals, and especially fashion. And fashion coverage is something Collard is ideally suited to provide. Again, that editorial is likely to tilt toward men--there are relatively few ad campaigns aimed at lesbian style mavens.

The impending changes have caused considerable anxiety at Out. Two contributing writers, Daniel Mendelsohn and Sue Carswell, have already quit, and other staffers are mulling over their options. Collard used Brantley to relay a reassuring message to the lesbians who feared they might be fired, but trepidation persists that service and ''fun'' will inevitably diminish Out's serious journalism. ''People are trying to figure out what's best for a magazine that everyone is very, very dedicated to,'' says one staffer. They could quit in protest, but then ''suddenly he's got what he wanted--all the girls and the people who are doing serious stuff have left, so let's just make it a men's magazine.''

Earlier this year, some Out staffers were happy to participate when Scott made himself open to critiques of Pettit's behavior. They now suspect they played into Scott's hands by giving him an excuse to fire his editor and implement a new vision for Out he knew they wouldn't like. ''There's a relief that we lost Sarah's mean side,'' says one, ''but we're afraid we also lost the magazine.''

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