Vivid freelances and publisher in bust-up

Vivid: mock-up cover of the autumn issue

A row has broken out between the publisher and senior freelances at Vivid magazine, the lifestyle glossy owned by international beauty company Wella.

The title had a staff restructure that led to the termination of contract for deputy editor Emma Meredith and the departures of fashion editor Axia Gaitskell-Kendrick and beauty editor Noella Mingo – all of whom were freelance.

Gaitskell-Kendrick sent out a press release saying that six “names” had left and were setting up a new style of publishing house called Content-Ed.

The release suggested Vivid had also lost style writer Kirk E Fraser and contributing writers Andie Kendrick and Jade Morgan.

The move has angered Vivid’s publisher, Henry Weston, however, who has taken legal advice and claimed it was misleading as three of the journalists mentioned in the release were actually pseudonyms used by GaitskellKendrick and Meredith.

Weston said it gave the impression that staff were leaving “en masse” and he has threatened to take out an injunction if the release is not withdrawn. He also objected to a claim in the release that stated the group had been responsible for approximately two-thirds of the magazine’s content.

He said: “The list supplied by Content-Ed includes a further three names whom they allege have resigned. These were, in fact, pseudonyms including Axia’s son and husband, plus Emma’s two-year-old daughter. We sent a letter to it saying that the information it was sending out was misleading. They haven’t left en masse because half of them didn’t exist in the first place. We have asked Content-Ed to withdraw these statements and its failure to do this will result in us requesting an injunction against it.”

When approached by Press Gazette initially, GaitskellKendrick denied the names were pseudonyms, insisting they were freelances who were “away on holiday”.

Gaitskell-Kendrick later admitted they were pseudonyms that had appeared regularly in the magazine and had been included in the release to “publicise the fact the names had gone”.

Weston said the restructure follows reader research that suggested Vivid should target a narrower, more upmarket audience. Items such as horoscopes and travel will be dropped in favour of a bigger emphasis on fashion, beauty and interiors.

The frequency is to reverse from bimonthly back to quarterly, pagination will drop by 30 pages and the cover price will increase from £3.20 to up to £4.

“The magazine will be a far more targeted and upmarket publication,” Weston said.

Vivid was founded five years ago and was initially distributed through 12,000 Wella hair salons. It extended its distribution to the news-stand in May 2003.

Content Ed said it will give editors a chance to draw on the freelances’ experience for photographic content or features in fashion, beauty, travel or interiors.

Ruth Addicott

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