Thursday, October 18, 2018

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

What's happening at your publication? Let us know. Email editor Fred Kuhr at editor@presspassq.com

CENTRAL VOICE, based in Middletown, Penn., received top honors in the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation’s annual Newspaper of the Year contest. In addition to being named second place for Newspaper of the Year in its division, it also was the winner of a General Excellence Award. The newspaper took first place awards in Advertising Excellence, Diversity and Community Service. Second place honors were won in the categories of News Presentation Excellence, Editorial & Commentary Excellence, Best Use of Photography, and Promotion.

JEN COLLETTA, former editor and current columnist at PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS, and her wife ASHLEE TURTURRO welcomed their son JACKSON ANTHONY into the world on August 7, 2018.

Rachel Giese
DAVE RHODES’ HUMP DAY news blog on www.THELEATHERJOURNAL.com celebrated its first anniversary on August 9, 2018.

GOGUIDE MAGAZINE, based in Iowa City, Iowa, entered its third year of publication with its September 2018 issue, which is also its annual Campus Edition.

PINK TRIANGLE PRESS, Canada’s leading LGBT media organization and parent of XTRA and DAILYXTRA.com, announced the appointment of RACHEL GIESE as XTRA’s director of editorial, effective November 5, 2018. She will lead a team of journalists in Toronto and Vancouver. An award-winning writer and editor based in Toronto, Giese recently published her first book, “Boys: What It Means To Be A Man,” which will be released in the U.S. later this year by SEAL PRESS. She also writes a column for CHATELAINE magazine, where she has been editor at large for four years.

Donna Sachet
LYDIA POLGREEN, editor in chief at HUFFPOST, is the recipient of the 2018 RANDY SHILTS Award for LGBTQ Coverage. She was named editor in chief in December 2016 after spending nearly 15 years at THE NEW YORK TIMES, where she most recently led an initiative to expand its audience outside the United States. Prior to that, she served as deputy international editor, the South Africa bureau chief, a correspondent for the New Delhi bureau and chief of the West Africa bureau. Before joining The Times, Polgreen was a reporter in Florida and New York. She began her career as assistant editor and business manager for THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY in D.C.

DONNA SACHET, an entertainer and activist in San Francisco, is the new columnist at the SAN FRANCISCO BAY TIMES. The column, called “Donna’s Chronicles,” will bring readers a personal view of important events in the LGBT community and San Francisco at large.

THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY TIMES hosted a 40th anniversary panel, called “Four Decades of an LGBT Free Press,” on September 28, 2018, at the GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM reuniting the newspaper’s founding members, including CLEVE JONES, RANDY ALFRED, DR. BILL LIPSKY, ANDREA SHORTER, RAFAEL MANDELMAN, SUSAN CALICO and M.J. LALLO.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 20
Issue 7

Local media gear up for midterm elections

by Joe Siegel

LGBT media have been busy providing coverage for the upcoming midterm elections, which features many contested races at the local, state, and federal levels. As part of coverage, many LGBT candidates are being spotlighted by various publications.

The Washington Blade went a little bit further, publishing a column by Earl Fowlkes, Democratic National Committee LGBTQ Caucus Chair, who urged LGBT Americans to get out and vote for Democrats, especially ones who are LGBT.

DNC's Earl Fowlkes, author of
column in Washington Blade
“There is good reason to be optimistic about the fight for full equality, but today our hard-earned progress faces a serious threat from President Trump and his anti-LGBTQ agenda,” Fowlkes wrote. “Cast a vote for an LGBTQ candidate and our Democratic allies this November so they can continue to fight for our rights. We deserve elected officials who represent the diversity of the American people and have our interests at heart. Electing lesbian, gay, bi and trans folks up and down the ballot is a big step in the right direction.”

San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter has taken a more subdued approach.

“We are in one of the bluest regions of the bluest state in the country, so locally we have not been covering congressional races much,” explained news editor Cynthia Laird. “I do plan to run a national story right after the election that will look at how the various LGBT candidates did in other states, whether Dems were able to take back the House and Senate.” 

Currently, Laird said, her paper’s election coverage is focused on local races in San Francisco, Oakland, and other parts of the Bay Area.” There are a number of out candidates running for local offices, such as city council and school board, and we have been following them all year, and will have follow-up stories post Nov. 6,” she said.

In South Florida, coverage issues are different. “For the most part we don’t endorse local candidates because our geographical area is just too large to effectively, or efficiently, research all of the various races between West Palm Beach and Key West,” explained Jason Parsley, executive editor of South Florida Gay News. “Sometimes we do endorsements of statewide races like the gubernatorial or senate race. But so far we haven’t endorsed anybody this cycle.”

SFGN will be listing the endorsements from the three largest LGBT rights groups in Florida.

“Since we are based in Wilton Manors, one of the gayest cities in the United States, we will do some local coverage of those races,” Parsley noted. “One candidate that stands out here is Lauren Baer, who is running for the House against Brian Mast, the incumbent Republican. She’s openly gay and married, which would be a first if elected. A lot of LGBT activists are excited about her candidacy.”

Dallas Voice has not endorsed any candidates. Managing Editor Tammye Nash said the publication has endorsed only one candidate ever, and that was Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential bid.

Instead, Dallas Voice has been focusing on LGBT candidates on the ballot in Texas since before the start of the year.

“We actually had two openly LGBT candidates - former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and bar owner/businessman Jeffrey Payne - on the ballot for governor in the Democratic Primary,” said Nash. “Lupe won the nomination in a runoff with Andrew White, son of former Democratic Gov. Mark White. And we have openly LGBT candidates on the November ballot at all levels, including several well-known folks in the North Texas community besides Lupe. Lorie Burch is running for Congress.”

Nash said one particular contest is getting a lot of attention, for obvious reasons.

“We are covering the Beto O’Rourke/Ted Cruz race for the U.S. Senate, of course, because that race has such big implications for our community and the whole country,” added Nash. “And we are keeping up with important races, especially with LGBT candidates, around the country. But our main focus has been first on local LGBT candidates and then LGBT candidates around the state.”

TOP STORY
Volume 20
Issue 7

Bay Area Reporter defends controversial op-ed

by Fred Kuhr

San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter took to its own opinion pages to defend running a controversial op-ed about a controversial comment made at a gathering of LGBT journalists.

“When B.A.R. publishes a Guest Opinion column, we don’t expect everyone to agree with it. Sometimes we don’t agree with it,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote in the September 19 issue. “The point of the opinion page is to provide a public forum.”

So what exactly caused the firestorm?

In early September at the national convention of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, gay cisgender Ohio weathercaster and longtime NLGJA member Marshall McPeek was speaking at the confab’s closing reception. He opened his remarks, seemingly as a joke, with, “Ladies and gentlemen, things and its.”

Outrage was swift, both inside the room and on social media. “There were no ‘things and its,’” in that hotel conference room, TransGriot blogger Monica Roberts wrote on Twitter. “There were trans, gender non-non-conforming and non-binary people in there.”

Marshall McPeek, whose
comment started the firestorm
McPeek apologized within the hour, as did NLGJA. “During the closing reception, Marshall McPeek, a volunteer emcee, made an inappropriate, unscripted remark that does not reflect our values. He returned to the stage and apologized. He has also voluntarily resigned his membership in the organization,” the group said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard for many years to make NLGJA an inclusive organization for transgender and non-binary journalists. People were understandably hurt and offended by last night’s remarks. As journalists, we understand uniquely that words matter. We apologize and are committed to working to make NLGJA more inclusive and diverse.”

Enter Steve Friess, another longtime NLGJA member, who wrote an op-ed that was published in the Bay Area Reporter. In the op-ed, Friess called McPeek “a nice man [who] said a stupid thing.” He also blasted “pitchfork-wielding trans Twitter.”

“Obviously, McPeek was wrong,” Friess was wrong. “According to at least one prominent colleague back in Columbus, Ohio, where McPeek is a weatherman, the ‘things and its’ construction is a dumb gag people there say with no reference to gender identity. That doesn't make it OK in this context, but it also doesn't make it a premeditated act of malicious emceeing or an important insight into McPeek's views on transgender people.”

Friess also took on NLGJA for its statement. “NLGJA itself has behaved so shamefully here. That merry band of cowards had a chance to both apologize and vouch for McPeek's integrity and contrition. Instead, after a quarter century of service, their statement distanced the NLGJA from McPeek by referencing him as merely a ‘volunteer emcee.’ As the NLGJA doesn't pay any of its emcees, everyone's a volunteer. But McPeek is one of the group's most generous, selfless leaders.”

Angry readers then blasted the newspaper for carrying the column. But as the editorial put it, “We reject the criticism levelled at the Bay Area Reporter over our decision to publish an opinion piece last week that discussed a timely, topical issue about a mistake, an apology, and anger by the transgender community. Contrary to what some commenters said online, …our pages were not ‘darkened’ by the presence of [the] op-ed….

“We, as a community, must figure out a way to understand each other because we do have common goals, like equality, the ability to use a restroom that matches our gender identity, and being treated with respect. We're going to have to figure out how to work together, not alone, in order to achieve those basic human rights, especially while Donald Trump is president. So, if you disagree with what we publish, fine. Send us a letter to the editor, pitch your own op-ed, or fire away online. But please understand that our role as a queer newspaper is to foster dialogue - on all sides - and focus on our real enemies.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 7

Milwaukee newspaper says goodbye

by Fred Kuhr

The front page of the September 20 issue of the Wisconsin Gazette had one simple headline, “Time To Say Goodbye.”

After almost 10 years of publishing in the Badger State’s largest city, the biweekly Gazette is shutting down, citing financial constraints.

“Excelling in our work and cultivating a large, faithful readership did not translate into revenue,” Gazette
president and CEO Leonard Sobczak wrote in an editorial headlined, “A sad but fond farewell.”

“After much thought, brainstorming and monitoring what’s happening in our industry, I concluded that the resistance to print advertising is firmly entrenched and unlikely to change - at least in our region - in the foreseeable future,” Sobczak wrote.

From the beginning, and despite successful relationships with local advertisers, raising revenue was a struggle. “Many of our advertisers were grateful for the new customers they found through their ads in the newspaper. Some enthusiastically provided us with testimonials. We offered a unique audience that included large numbers of people involved in politics and civic life - in environmental groups, good-government groups, immigrant-rights groups, etc. This audience strongly supported the paper and felt a connection with our advertisers. Most of our advertisers benefited by making us part of their marketing strategy.

“Yet, we struggled from the start to secure enough advertising revenue to put us in the black. Finding effective, committed sales representatives was a problem for most of our history, and it became more challenging with each passing year.”

According to reporting in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Gazette had been printing 28,000 copies for distribution in the Milwaukee area. Its circulation was cut from 32,000 a few months ago when the Gazette stopped distribution in the state capital of Madison.

The newspaper’s seven full-time employees were let go.

While the paper was founded as an LGBT media outlet, it expanded to covering all progressive issues in 2014. The words “Progressive. Alternative.” were even added underneath the paper’s front-page flag. Over the years, the Gazette won 31 awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 7

Chicago’s Tracy Baim part of team to rescue alt weekly

by Fred Kuhr

Tracy Baim, co-founder and publisher of Chicago’s Windy City Times, has a new job. She has stepped away from day-to-day responsibilities from the city’s LGBT newspaper to become the publisher of the Chicago Reader, the city’s iconic alternative weekly.

"This is a very exciting challenge and opportunity," said Baim. "The Reader is an iconic media company and is a critical voice in Chicago. I look forward to continuing its tradition, and expanding its reach.”

Tracy Baim
This news came after an agreement was reached between the Chicago Sun-Times, owner of the Chicago Reader weekly newspaper, and a private investment group, which had formed a low-profit limited liability company (L3C) to purchase the Reader and ensure it remains a vital voice in the local media landscape.

Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary (Ind.) Crusader newspapers, will be chairman of the Reader board of directors. Board treasurer will be Eileen Rhodes, president of East Lake Management Group, and secretary will be Jessica Stites, executive editor of In These Times magazine.

Baim’s Windy City Times management team - Terri Klinsky, Andrew Davis, Kirk Williamson, Jean Albright and Matt Simonette - will now be responsible for the weekly production of Windy City Times.

The major investors behind the Reader purchase are longtime business leader Elzie Higginbottom and criminal defence attorney Leonard Goodman. A public fundraising and membership drive will also launch soon.

The Reader, founded in 1971, is among the last remaining alternative weekly newspapers that came out of the 1960s and ‘70s counterculture movements. The new owners say they will continue the strong tradition of cultural coverage and investigative reporting, focusing on both print and digital distribution channels.

In 1985, Baim co-founded Windy City Times. The author of 12 books, Baim has won numerous awards for her work as a journalist and publisher, including induction into journalism and LGBT halls of fame, most recently the Association of Women Journalists-Chicago Hall of Fame.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
Issue 7

GUEST COMMENTARY: Not the enemy of the people

by Watermark Central Florida Bureau Chief Jeremy Williams and Tampa Bay Bureau Chief Ryan Williams-Jent

(This editorial originally appeared in the August 23, 2018, issue of Watermark, based in Orlando, Fla.)

Beginning August 16, prompted by The Boston Globe, over 400 news outlets nationwide shared their support for the free press and their opposition to Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on it.

“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘The enemy of the people,’” the outlet wrote. “This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences. We asked editorial boards from around the country – liberal and conservative, large and small – to join us today to address this fundamental threat in their own words.”
Today, Watermark answers The Globe’s call. We stand with journalists and citizens across the nation to say, enough!

Founded in 1994, Watermark is a multi-faceted media company, using opportunity and innovation to communicate and advance LGBTQ interests. We have a corporate emphasis on professionalism while building strong relationships with our readers, customers and community.

We print up to 20,000 copies biweekly and distribute them to over 500 locations throughout Orlando, Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Florida at large. For over10 years, we’ve maintained WatermarkOnline.com, updated daily –  and we donate over $300,000 annually in free and sponsor advertising to local and national LGBTQ non-profits.

Trump – whether addressing supporters at his rallies or addressing the nation, and the world, through his Twitter account – has built his presidency on calling the press “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” We are not the enemy of the people; we are the people, dedicated to sharing the truth.

We are the people who celebrated with this community when marriage equality came to the whole United States. We are the people who mourned with this community when ignorance and gun violence made us feel unprotected in our safe havens. The triumphs and the tragedies found within the stories of our ever-growing LGBTQ community have merit and meaning. We will continue to listen to and share them.

In part, it’s why Watermark’s first in-depth of the year was “Darkest Before Dawn,” a look at how Donald Trump’s first year in office impacted the LGBTQ community. Whatever your feelings on the man, it’s difficult to deny he’s impacted every community across the nation – ours very much included.

From Trump’s selection of notoriously anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence as his running mate to tweeted transgender military bans to standing on the event stages of ultraconservative groups that say our relationships are not valid and that our lives are nothing but a mental disorder, Watermark has covered the nation’s 45th president. We’ve done so because it is our responsibility. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly, nor has it been taken lightly by the journalists who have come before us who held those in institutions of power accountable for their actions.

It was The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s reporting on the Watergate scandal that forced the investigations that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

It was the Boston Globe’s investigative “Spotlight” team that exposed how deep and widespread the child abuse scandal was in the Roman Catholic Church at the turn of the millennium.

The press is the most powerful weapon a free society has to wield against corrupt institutions and leaders. While they may not have to always like the press, they must respect them for their role in a free democracy.

Founding Father and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson – who at times expressed a great dislike of the press – understood its importance, writing, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with journalists from across the country and around the world, Watermark will continue to bring the stories that amplify your voices and speak truth to power.

We leave you with this, from the New York Times’ editorial, “If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”

GUEST COMMENTARY
Volume 20
Issue 7

PRESSING QUESTIONS: #Boom Magazine of St. Louis

Interview with Co-Founder, COO & Editor Colin Murphy
by Joe Seigel

Year founded: June 2014

Staff size and breakdown: The triad of owners – Publisher Colin Lovett, Editor Colin Murphy, and Webmaster Kurt Ross all wear multiple hats from creating content to handling ad sales. We also have a handful of freelance writers and photographers.  

Key demographics: LGBTQ and urban progressive community 

Web site: www.boom.lgbt

*****

PPQ: What feature or features of #Boom have been the most popular with readers?

Editor Colin Murphy: I'm happy to report that a timely hard news story still does very well. But articles showcasing community members and their contributions, LGBTQ history, and our event photography are some of the favorites. 

PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it? 

Murphy: It was a collaborative effort. We knew we wanted to incorporate the hashtag into our branding and #Boom worked perfectly with our “#news, #advocacy #community” tagline. “Boom” as a phrase and on social media was embraced early on by the LGBTQ community whenever someone was proving a point, sharing empowering news, or ending a debate with the proverbial mic drop. It's a statement, it's a sound, it's us.

PPQ: What differentiates #Boom from other gay media outlets in the St. Louis metro area?

Murphy: There are five LGBTQ publications in Missouri – three in St. Louis – ranging from print to online only. I think what sets #Boom apart is our boots on the ground approach to covering the entire LGBTQ community. You can find us interviewing a politician, hitting a non-profit board meeting or fundraiser, then closing out the evening covering a leather contest or drag pageant some days. The diversity of our coverage is something we're very proud of.  

PPQ: What challenge has #Boom had to overcome since its inception?

Murphy: Monetizing the website when the community is used to the traditional print publication. It's easier to tell a potential advertiser we put X number of issues on the street each month vs. explaining web traffic, unique users, and page views.

PPQ: What challenge or challenges is #Boom facing now?

Murphy: When we first launched, oftentimes queer media would be the only press at a local LGBTQ event, other than Pride. We basically had the story to ourselves. More and more since marriage equality we'll see the AP, Post Dispatch, Riverfront Times, NPR, and a couple of the local news stations on the scene in addition to the LGBTQ press. So it's definitely upped our hustle and our game.

PPQ: How has #Boom changed since it was first launched? 

Murphy: We were one of the pioneer websites to migrate to the new .lgbt top-level domain (TLD) in 2015. Our original website was boommagstl.com, so we jumped at the chance to become boom.lgbt. We were the first media outlet in the nation and second in the world along with PinkNews to do so, and honestly, it was one of the best decisions we've made. It's really optimized our SEO and solidified our brand.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Murphy: We'd definitely still like to launch a print product at some point. 

Colin Murphy
PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories #Boom has covered?

Murphy: In June 2014 we were given a heads up from someone in the Recorder of Deeds Office that they were secretly issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples who were going to be wed in St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's office. We were able to break that story along with the Post-Dispatch, who were also given a heads up. The case immediately brought a lawsuit from the Attorney General and lead to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages in St. Louis ahead of the Obergefell decision by the U.S. Supreme Court the following year. 

PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 (exclusively straight to totally gay), how gay is your web site? 

Murphy: We're pretty darn gay! I'd say a hard 5 since we do cover entertainment and progressive issues that aren't exclusively LGBTQ. 

PPQ: Do you see yourself as an “activist journalist”? If so, in what way? 

Murphy: Publisher Colin Lovett and I actually met in 2009 at the National LGBTQ Equality March in D.C. and subsequently worked on actions here locally as well as in the LGBTQ non-profit and LGBT media arenas together, so yes, there's activism in our DNA.

PPQ: What's the most surprising feedback you've received from a reader?

Murphy: We hear all the time from folks who don't go out anymore or can't make it to particular events and feel that they are connected to the LGBTQ community through us. It's why we do what we do. 

PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own GLBT website?

Murphy: This goes for any local or regional LGBTQ media endeavor: It's a labor of love, the hours are long, and money is oftentimes a struggle. But it's a unique privilege to document and celebrate the LGBTQ community. You'll be in the middle of some amazing things.

PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 20
Issue 7