Outside media company will cut three magazines and lay off dozens of employees

Outside Inc., which publishes more than 20 magazines dedicated to the outdoors and fitness including namesake Outside, will lay off 66 full-time employees as it shifts away from print and focuses on digital. The company has roughly 580 employees.

The news comes just months after editorial staff at Outside magazine withdrew their petition to the National Labor Relations Board for a union election. The staff had announced their union drive with the NewsGuild on Jan. 4, but just six weeks later, they unanimously decided to halt their efforts “for the collective good.”

“Over the past six weeks, we have had many tough conversations. Managers, both corporate and direct, have said that they hear our concerns and have repeatedly asked for more time to implement change,” the staff tweeted March 2. “We are granting an opportunity for both sets of leaders to deliver on that promise, and intend to work in good faith to help them do so.”

Outside Inc. will eliminate its magazines Beta, which focuses on mountain bikes; Peloton, which focuses on bike racing; and Oxygen, which focuses on workouts for women; according to the Denver Business Journal, which first reported the layoffs. The company will also reduce printing for most of its publications — except Outside magazine — to one or two issues a year. It is unclear whether the layoffs will affect any of the Outside magazine staff.

“In line with what many in the media industry have seen as the future of media, we are making a concerted shift from a high volume of print to a greater focus on immersive video and digital storytelling,” the company wrote in an emailed statement. “With this shift, Outside made the difficult but necessary decision to reduce headcount, which accounted for 66 full-time employees across the organization.”

The company has grown rapidly in the past two years, after Pocket Outdoor Media acquired Outside magazine and several other brands in February 2021 and changed its name to Outside. Since then, the company has made 20 acquisitions and quadrupled its paid membership to more than 800,000 subscribers.

Yet, during that time, Outside magazine suffered cuts and high turnover, according to the Jan. 4 statement from its staff. They wrote that they had little job security and that their salaries had fallen “significantly” below market standards.

“In the face of continued cuts, compensation stagnation, and management decisions that value profit and corporate expansion over our editorial missions, we believe that the only way to ensure that Outside is an equitable workplace and its editorial integrity is kept intact is by coming together and forming a union,” they wrote at the time.

Poynter has reached out to several staff members who signed that statement but did not immediately receive a response.

Unions cannot completely stop layoffs — but they can negotiate protections and terms that deter companies from eliminating positions. For example, they can set terms for severance and require companies to give prior notice before letting people go.

Eliminated Outside employees will receive between six weeks and four months of severance pay, as well as COBRA health insurance, CEO Robin Thurston told Denver Business Journal.