More changes at The Advocate as new editor appointed

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Jon Barrett has been named as the new editor in chief of leading US gay publication The Advocate.

A former senior news editor at the magazine from 1997 to 2003, he will take over when LPI Media complete their purchase of the title from PlanetOut Inc.

LPI Media, the largest LGBT publisher in the US, which owns here! Networks and a range of online, television and film properties, is acquiring PlanetOut’s magazine and book publishing businesses.

“Over the past 40 years The Advocate has become the publication of record for the LGBT community,” Paul Colichman and Stephen P Jarchow, CEO and Chairman of here! Networks, said in a statement.

“We are thrilled that Jon Barrett will bring his talent to this important brand and continue the historic tradition of The Advocate.

“Barrett will provide the magazine with a provocative new perspective around the critical issues affecting the lives of the LGBT community as well as expand into a definitive, daily online news source.”

The Advocate has always mirrored the needs of its readership,” said Mr Barratt.

“Whether that meant advancing the explosive push for civil rights in the 1960s, documenting the heady liberation of the 1970s, or assuming the serious—and necessary—mantle of news magazine in the 1980s and 90s,” Barrett said.

He replaces Anne Stockwell, editor for 15 years.

PlanetOut saw sales slide to $53m (£26m) last year, down from $58.8m in 2006. The company also recorded a $25.9 million charge for impairment of goodwill and intangible assets in 2007.

In May 2007 high operating costs and declining sales resulted in a considerable first-quarter loss and a resulting slide in share price.

In July 2007 a company that invests the wealth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates purchased a major stake in PlanetOut.

Cascade Investments LLC joined with a number of other private equity vehicles to fund a rescue buyout of PlanetOut stock.

That same month the company closed its London and Buenos Aires offices as part of a streamlining of business operations designed to reduce costs. 273 staff were made redundant.

In October 2007, in order to retain a listing on the NASDAQ, PlanetOut reduced their stock by 10 to 1, a reverse stock split, meaning that 1,000 shares became 100.

This increased the share price and reduced the number of shares – without that manoeuvre they would have been trading at below $1 a share.

By January of this year the company was trading at 13% of its value in January 2007.

Chief executive Karen Magee said last year that it would take at least 12 to 24 months to turn PlanetOut around and that the company may sell its adult businesses.

Her strategy was to create a greater level of integration between the company’s online and print businesses and put advertising revenue at the core of its business model.

The company sold its travel business RSVP Vacations to Atlantis Events in November.

SpecPub is also expected to be sold – it publishes hard core gay titles such as Freshmen magazine.

In the USA, PlanetOut faces competition from MTV owner Viacom who run the Logo gay television network, itself owning, and