Condé Nast is merging Pitchfork, the digital music publication it bought in 2015, with men’s magazine GQ — a move that will result in layoffs at Pitchfork, including the exit of editor-in-chief Puja Patel.
Anna Wintour, Condé Nast’s chief content officer and global editorial director of Vogue, announced the changes in a memo to company staff Wednesday. Pitchfork, which has cultivated a brand geared around music criticism doling out both generous praise and withering pans, was founded in 1996 by indie-music fan Ryan Schreiber.
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“Today we are evolving our Pitchfork team structure by bringing the team into the GQ organization. This decision was made after a careful evaluation of Pitchfork’s performance and what we believe is the best path forward for the brand so that our coverage of music can continue to thrive within the company,” Wintour wrote in the memo.
According to Wintour, “Both Pitchfork and GQ have unique and valuable ways that they approach music journalism, and we are excited for the new possibilities together.” She added with the organizational changes, “some of our Pitchfork colleagues will be leaving the company today.”
A rep for Condé Nast did not have information on how many Pitchfork staffers are being let go. Wintour’s memo about the Pitchfork changes was first reported by Semafor’s Max Tani.
Wintour in her memo thanked Patel, formerly editor-in-chief of Spin, “for her leadership of the title over the last five years. She has been a wonderful colleague and advocate for the brand, and I’m grateful for her and the team’s many contributions.”
Pitchfork staffers who were laid off included features editor Jill Mapes, who posted on X/Twitter about getting pink-slipped. “I’ve referred to my job at pitchfork as being on a ferris wheel at closing time, just waiting for them to yank me down,” Mapes wrote in the post. “after nearly 8 yrs, mass layoffs got me. glad we could spend that time trying to make it a less dude-ish place just for GQ to end up at the helm.”
The company’s changes with Pitchfork come after Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch said last November that the company planned to lay off upwards of 300 employees, representing 5% of total headcount, and take other steps to cut costs.
While the move to subsume Pitchfork into GQ prompted some observers to scratch their heads, it’s worth noting that GQ editor-in-chief Will Welch, who assumed the top editorial role at the magazine in 2018, started his career as a music journalist on the staff of The Fader. Pitchfork staff members will “hear more about their reporting structure in meetings this week,” according to Wintour’s memo.
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