Thursday, May 29, 2014

Florida publisher, a formerly closeted athlete, pens memoir

by Chuck Colbert

Publishers of LGBT publications come from any number of backgrounds, including activism, journalism, law and business. But none has yet to come to gay media publishing quite like an acclaimed former professional tennis coach.

Meet Bobby Blair, publisher of Ft. Lauderdale-based Florida Agenda and Guy Magazine, and now author of “Hiding Behind the Baseline,” a coming out memoir about a closeted gay athlete and coach in the 1980s and 1990s.
Blair was a top-ranked junior and collegiate player who went professional for five years and then enjoyed a successful coaching career.

“I spent so many years in the closet during my tennis career as a player and a coach,” he said during a recent phone interview, “and all during that time I was completely in hiding and living straight and dating girls. I just felt that had I just come out, I would have been able to do so much in those days to make a difference.”
Florida Agenda publisher, and author of
"Hiding Behind the Baseline,"
Bobby Blair

As Blair started to come out in Ft. Lauderdale, he realized, “I had such an interesting story to tell, and I felt I could help people not to waste their lives away. Here I was, in my forties and not living my truth, not living an honest life. I felt, how can I be a credible and legitimate publisher, how could I make a difference in the LGBT community? How could I reach out to straight people who have gay kids and family members, gay friends, gay employers or employees? How could I help make a difference toward equality and acceptance?”

Altogether, Blair said of his motivation for writing “Hiding Behind the Baseline,” “What is the best way for me to apologize to the LGBT community for not being out, for not being a role model for all those years? I could have made a difference. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice and just be a low-profile publisher.”

And so, “I decided to tell my story, and it made a real difference.”

Released earlier this year by Making a Difference Publishing, “Hiding Behind the Baseline” chronicles the decades long struggles and turmoil — if not inner angst — inherent in inauthentic living.

And yet, as the book’s promotional literature puts it, “This story has the star power and life lessons to empower and inspire LGBT athletes to live their truth, while also encouraging family, friends, teachers, coaches, sponsors and the fans to better understand the importance to accept and embrace all people as they strive to achieve their goals personally and professionally while living their truth.”

Reviewers of the book agree, noting the power and reach of “Hiding Behind the Baseline” goes well beyond the sport of tennis.

LZ Granderson, an openly gay journalist and commentator for CNN and ESPN, offered his thoughts in a short statement. “It is said that courage isn’t the absence of fear but the fortitude to confront fear. And as long as homophobia continues to be an accepted element of the locker room culture and homophobic language a coach’s motivational tool, we can never dismiss the courage it takes for an athlete, on any level, to be openly gay. Bobby Blair may not be a household name, but his journey — from frightened collegiate athlete to empowered advocate — is one that has an important lesson for anyone who believes in the unifying power of sports.”

Billie Jean King, a former World No. 1 professional tennis player, also voiced praise. “Bobby Blair is committed to providing a safe and confidential support team for LGBT athletes around the globe and by sharing his own experiences and showing how important it is to live your truth. I know he will make a major impact in the lives of those he reaches through his foundation and his new book.”

Through Blair’s foundation, he has launched a mentoring program that will assist and guide LGBT athletes in pursuit of living their truth. In other words, the program aims to assist athletes in the coming out process.

In anguishing over coming out or not, Blair did not want to let anyone down. “My uncle, Dick Rosenthal, was the athletics director at Notre Dame. He married my dad’s sister, and so I could not let my Catholic family down, didn’t want to let my uncle down,” said Blair. “There were so many things gnawing at me. I didn’t want to disrespect my mother who died of cancer when I was 18 and was an incredible Catholic. I never wanted to let my sick mom down with this truth of being gay,” Blair added, pointing to a chapter in the book that deals with that piece of his life story.
Sure enough, along the way, the messages from Catholicism were not helpful to a young man trying to find his way. “I just heard [homosexuality] was a sin and mental sickness,” said Blair.  

The effect of Catholic Church negativity on him, he said, “Guilty, guilty, guilty. I felt so wrong. I felt dirty. I felt like I was going to hell. And I felt like I wasn’t a good person.”

Over time, despite his “childhood upbringing,” Blair came to see “there is no way God would create me and give me the talents he gave me not to enjoy the fruits of heaven.”

Nonetheless, he said, “I still deal with that, and it takes all in my power to believe that I will go to heaven. It took a long time to believe that.”

These days, Blair’s faith “is stronger than ever as I finally believe I am living the life God gave me. What got me through tough times was Robert Schuller in younger years and today Joel Osteen,” both televangelists.
In all, “There were so many reasons that I didn’t come out, and they are all explained in the book,” said Blair.
But for one thing, he is perhaps most grateful. That is the love and support of his famed tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, whom “I loved so much and [who] took me from my home at age 14 when my mom was dying of cancer and my dad was broke and gave me a life before I was anybody on this planet,” said Blair. “For a tough-as-nails military guy and a hard-core personality male, to say ‘I love you and don’t give a crap [that you are gay],’ that changed my life. Nick was not the only person who loved and embraced me on this planet for who I am, but his OK gave me the biggest sigh of relief and boost to live my truth.”

Consequently, “I could live my life with my head on my shoulders.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 16
Issue 1/2

Windy City's Baim honored for lifetime achievement

by Chuck Colbert

The publisher and executive editor of Chicago’s leading LGBT publication has received top honors from the Chicago Headline Club. And not only did the venerable mainstream organization bestow its Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in Chicago journalism on Tracy Baim, but the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapter in the country recognized her for an editorial series on marriage equality in Illinois.

Baim received the honors and award on May 2, 2014, during the 37th annual Peter Lisagor Awards Dinner, held at The Union League Club in Chicago. The awards recognize work published in 2013.

Tracy Baim (right) with veteran Chicago journalist Bill
Kurtis, both Lifetime Achievement Award winners.
(Photo: Hal Baim, Windy City Times)
“It is an amazing honor to be recognized by your peers, no matter what field you are in. But in journalism, it feels especially gratifying because for so many years, LGBT journalism was not respected in the mainstream," said Baim. “It was also terrific to be honored for the editorials on marriage equality, because when the first one was published, it was actually criticized by other media because it was so strong on the leaders of the push for marriage. It was holding their feet to the fire, but also offering solutions.” 

In its coverage of Baim’s accomplishments, the Advocate noted the lifetime achievement awards as “a landmark for LGBT media.”

A four-minute video featuring Baim’s career in LGBT media was shown at the awards dinner (http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Windy-City-Times-publisher-earns-two-journalism-honors/47277.html).

Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Media Group, which produces Windy City Times, Nightspots and other gay media in Chicago. She co-founded Windy City Times in 1985 and Outlines newspaper in 1987. She has won numerous gay community and journalism honors, including the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award in 2005. She started in Chicago gay journalism in 1984 at GayLife newspaper one month after graduating with a journalism degree from Drake University.

Baim is also the editor and co-author of 2012’s “Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America,” a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Top 10 selection from the American Library Association GLBT Round Table.

Just in time for the 2010 mid-term elections, Baim authored and published “Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage,” a 550-page book chronicling the accomplishments and stumbles of the Obama administration on LGBT rights, as well as probing the LGBT community’s role in the president’s political triumphs.

Two years earlier, Baim founded Ripe Fruit Films and was among the producers of the Sharon Gless movie “Hannah Free,” which won a number of regional and city-based film festivals.

In 2008, she co-authored and edited the first book dedicated to LGBT Chicago history, “Out and Proud in Chicago:  An Overview of the City’s Gay Community.”

Among other accomplishments, the veteran journalist played a significant role in bringing the 2006 Gay Games to Chicago and launched the Chicago Gay History website, chicagogayhistory.com, which provides a wealth of information about the community online.

In the editorial series for which the Chicago Headline Club honored her, Baim was especially hard on an openly gay Illinois state lawmaker, Rep. Greg Harris, a move that did not sit well with some people.

“If you are out front for the credit when there is victory, you are also out front for the failure. The bill stops there,” Baim wrote on June 1, 2013, in an editorial entitled “The Marriage Fiasco.”

“Harris made promises he could not keep. In politics, that can be a reason to step down,” she explained. “Harris, who has dedicated his career to LGBT and AIDS issues, deserves the chance to prove his strategy right. If he wins, we all win, and that is all that matters. But if he does not succeed in passing this in the veto session this fall, he should not run for re-election in 2014. To be clear, this is not a call for Harris to resign (despite what many on social media and in the mainstream media have interpreted this editorial to say), but he will have lost the trust of the people he made commitments to, and it is very difficult to lead once that trust is gone. In addition, Harris should step down now as chief sponsor of this legislation. He has proven he is tone deaf to the wishes of both the grassroots and leadership of this community. They almost all called for a vote ‘no matter what.’ Instead, Harris chose to give cover to his political colleagues, rather than follow through on his own on-the-record promise to call for a vote by May 31.”

Shortly thereafter, writers for the Chicago’s leading mainstream dailies, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, ran editorials backing Harris and saying this was not the time to step down.

Marriage equality legislation passed in the Illinois Senate in February 2013, but lawmakers delayed a vote in the House, in order to lobby for votes, until November 5, 2013, when that body passed an amended version of the bill by a narrow margin.

The Senate quickly approved the amended bill, and Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed it into law on November 20, 2013, with it to take effect on June 1, 2014, when gay and lesbian couples can marry after a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.

Moreover, on February 21, 2014, a U.S. district court judge ruled that same-sex couples in Cook County (where Chicago is located) could marry immediately and need not wait for the law to take effect on June 1. Based on that ruling, more than half a dozen other counties have begun to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in Illinois.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 16
Issue 1/2

Philly pub now the most award-winning LGBT newspaper

by Chuck Colbert

The leading LGBT publication in Pennsylvania has done it again, nailing down seven awards last month from the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Keystone Pro Chapter.  

The winners from Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) included Mark Segal for commentary, Angela Thomas for online breaking news (first and second place), Scott Drake for news photography, Jen Colletta for spot news and editorial, and Victoria Brownworth for enterprise reporting.

Founded 1976, by publisher Segal, PGN is among the nation’s oldest continuously published weeklies targeted to the LGBT community.

PGN’s recent honors, as editor Colletta noted, mean since the beginning of the year, PGN has won a total of 20 awards on both a state and national level.

PGN editor Jen Colletta
“Our staff is incredibly dedicated to creating and maintaining strong ties to the local community, which allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of all that's going on in the Philly LGBT community,” she said. “We've work hard to diversify our coverage, making sure we run a good mix of hard news, feature, human interest and investigative pieces.”

To be honored by mainstream organizations, speaks to professionalism of LGBT media and its unique role on the media landscape, Colletta believes. “Being recognized by mainstream journalism organizations reinforces the notion that, while LGBT issues are being covered at a more frequent rate now than in the past by mainstream publications, LGBT outlets still best understand and can best report on our own communities,” she said. 

PGN’s awards, the breadth and depth of topics covered, demonstrate a variety of news and editorial lenses through which the venerable publication operates. For example, publisher Segal’s “Mark My Words” column won honors for perspectives ranging from reflections on his National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame induction last summer to gun control to calling on Pennsylvania's state lawmakers to take more pro-active approaches to LGBT equality.

Colletta’s editorial award was for topics ranging from her own engagement to the role of social media in the equality movement to commentary on state politics. Her spot news recognition was for coverage of the filing of the first lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality.

The SPJ’s Keystone Pro Chapter honored Brownworth for a four-part series examining sex work among transwomen, where she spent months on the streets with local sex workers 

An award for news photography went to Drake for a shot of a local woman who camped out in a snowstorm to raise awareness about gun violence after her gay brother was murdered.

For her award, Thomas’ online breaking news pieces probed the shuttering of Giovanni's Room, an iconic LGBT bookstore, and the passage of a city council bill that offers tax credits for companies providing domestic-partner benefits and trans-inclusive coverage, as well as other issues.

Altogether, PGN’s streak of nabbing honors for journalistic excellence means it is the nation’s most-award winning LGBT newspaper.

As part of its mission, PGN “focuses on and promotes businesses and populations within the LGBT community to engender mutual success.” Also, according the publication’s web site, “This includes publishing special issues to highlight areas such as marriage, pets and health, as well as tackling sensitive issues like LGBT suicide and homelessness.”

PGN is published every Friday with an average print run of 15,000 copies and a pass-along rate of more than 25,000. Distribution is to more than 500 locations, including news boxes, bookstores, stores, community centers, LGBT organizations and other outlets throughout Greater Philadelphia and beyond into parts of Delaware and New Jersey.

IN THE NEWS
Volume16
Issue 1/2

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Out in Jersey of Trenton, N.J.

by Joe Siegel

Geographic coverage area: New Jersey with some distribution in eastern Pennsylvania and New York near the state borders

Year founded:  2002

Staff size and breakdown [writers, sales reps., etc.]: An editor, entertainment editor and editors for layout, cartoons and copy editing, about a dozen writers and two photographers “on staff” presently. Our “staff” is all unpaid at this time.

Physical dimensions of publication: 8.5” x 11” inches published six times a year.

Average page count: 40

Key demographics: 66 percent gay men, 22 percent lesbians, 13 percent bisexual, transgender and other; 72 percent of readers have college degrees and 33 percent earn over $100,000 annually. 

Print run: 5,250-6,000


*****

Press Pass Q: What part of Out in Jersey is the most popular?

Publisher Peter Frycki: Our “Spotted Out In Jersey” photo sections are the most popular. Our music reviews from Entertainment Editor Michael Cook and personal profiles are also very popular. Our "Casting Aspersions" column is written by founding editor Toby Grace and gets the most serious comment and discussion in each issue. But our newest feature, the pet adoption section, has been quite a hit with the readers.

PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome over the past few years?

Frycki: Growing the company while the great recession hit. Ninety-eight percent of our income is from advertising. The legacy advertisers and the amount they had to market with us was slashed by over 50 percent in 2009. Many of the smaller business owners did not survive the recession. Consequently, the magazine went from 64 to 48 and then to 32 pages in just one year. We have recently seen the marketing and advertising dollars start to grow again. 

PPQ: What challenges are you facing right now?

Frycki: We are in a slow growth mode and continue to struggle with an all-volunteer staff that is very committed to keeping Out In Jersey in the community. Almost everyone has other income sources and other priorities but they give the time they can.

PPQ: How has your publication changed since it was first launched?

Frycki: We are still LGBT activists at heart. But after 12 years, we operate more like a media business and make decisions more like a business would. There is a higher level of professionalism and an incredible amount of knowledge that has been gained since we started in 2002. To put it another way, I personally have learned the hard way what not to do.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Frycki: I would like to hire the first marketing and advertising manager. The area of marketing has been neglected for far too long and is reflected in our slow growth and lack of paid staff after 12 years.

PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?

Frycki: I say 5.5, but when I spoke with Sam Martino, our editor, she says Out In Jersey is totally gay, and a 6.

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

Frycki: Yes, most definitely! I started this publication as an activist because I believed New Jersey needed a statewide publication of its own. I still believe that. We need local publications to tell our local LGBT stories. Out In Jersey covers organizations and the very special people in the community that would not get much attention otherwise. They are all doing incredible work in their own way and need as much coverage as is possible. 

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

Frycki:  Last year we had a three-page feature written by Chris Azzopardi on singer Cyndi Lauper, but Out In Jersey had someone else on the cover. The Cyndi Lauper fans were livid! They could not believe that! After hearing from so many Cyndi Lauper fans, I had to agree that we blew it. They made an excellent case that Cyndi Lauper should have been on that cover. And she will be featured on the cover the next chance we get.

PPQ: What is the biggest story Out in Jersey has reported in the last few years?

Frycki: The ongoing coverage on how one person could stand in the way of equal marriage rights for the entire LGBT community. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was against marriage equality and vetoed the legislation. He, and he alone, was the reason lesbians and gays in New Jersey had to wait for another court decision to be legally wed in the state.

PPQ: What advice do you have for others working in LGBT media? 

Frycki: Drop your ego and be kind and understanding of your staff and where they come from. Be a mentor and a friend always.

PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 16
Issue 1/2

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

What’s happening at your publication? Let us know at editor@presspassq.com.
Andy Ambrosius of ChicagoPride.com

ANDY AMBROSIUS has joined CHICAGOPRIDE.COM as Boystown editor in chief. He will lead editorial direction, original content and expansion of the site’s Boystown channels. Prior to ChicagoPride.com, Ambrosius spent more than two years as editor for Patch, where he maintained a strong editorial voice for Chicago's Boystown and Lakeview neighborhoods. Ambrosius also guest edited and reported for four other North Side Patch publications. 

DIANE ANDERSON-MINSHALL, editor in chief of HIV PLUS magazine and editor at large for THE ADVOCATE, has been awarded the WPA Leadership Award by the Western Publishing Association. Anderson-Minshall was honored for spearheading the HIV Plus Treatment Guide Mobile App, which was the first app to offer comprehensive information on medications and other treatments, a pharmacy finder and articles from the trusted health editors of HIV Plus magazine. The new app provides medication listings, daily pill reminders, appointment reminders, viral load tracking, a pharmacy finder, and a detailed listing of current clinical trials, among other features.

MICHAEL BRUNO is the new editorial facilitator for OUR LIVES magazine, based in Madison, Wisc.

DALLAS VOICE, based in Dallas, Texas, celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 16, 2014, with a commemorative issue that chronicled the history it has shared with the community.

GA VOICE, based in Atlanta, entered its 5th year of publication on March 14, 2014.

GAYSAYER, from THE ADVOCATE, won the Best Social Media Community/Trade & Consumer prize during the 63rd annual Maggie Awards, which were held May 2, 2014, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles. The Western Publishing Association honored Gaysayer for its leadership role in the social media space. One of the first media outlets to have created a social media network dedicated to LGBT-friendly comedy, Gaysayer has accumulated nearly 10,000 Twitter followers with hundreds of LGBT comedians contributing. Gaysayer created the StandOUT contest, where comedians submitted YouTube videos with Advocate readers voting on their favorite, and Blanche Week, during which comedians tweet-roasted their favorite LGBT celebrities. Gaysayer provided an outlet for LGBT comedians to gain attention and a platform in the world of comedy. Follow Gaysayer now at @gaysayer.

HERETV, America’s only gay television network, launched a new website with a clean, fresh look and an even more user-friendly interface. Now fans can access information about their favorite Here TV programming quickly and effortlessly on their mobile phones, tablets, or computers. Visit the new website now at www.heretv.com.

HIV PLUS MAGAZINE published its 100th issue with its May/June 2014 issue.

FRANK (FRANKIE FIERCE) JOSEPH is the newest advertising representative for AMBUSH MAGAZINE, based in New Orleans.

LAVENDER MAGAZINE, based in Minneapolis, Minn., will be entering its 20th year of publication in June 2014. Sales and advertising director BARRY LEAVITT celebrated his 15th anniversary with the publication on April 12, 2014. Lavender will also be publishing its 500th issue on July 24, 2014.

OUTFRONT COLORADO, based in Denver, celebrated its 38th birthday on April 2, 2014.

OUTWORD, based in Sacramento, Calif., published its 500th issue on March 13, 2014.

STEVEN PETROW, author of ''Steven Petrow's Complete Gay and Lesbian Manners," is now contributing a bi-weekly advice column, “Civilities,” to the WASHINGTON POST that aims to engage with readers on all of life's quandaries, with a special emphasis on LGBT/straight etiquette issues. Read Petrow’s first column at http://wapo.st/1nCXp9F.

QVEGAS, based in Las Vegas, celebrated its 10th anniversary with its April 2014 issue.

ROBERTO QUINONES, whose career has included operational and diversity leadership responsibilities across commercial and nonprofit organizations, is the new executive director of UNITY : Journalists for Diversity, an umbrella organization for Asian American, Native American and LGBT journalists.

MIKE RITTER, art director for Atlanta-based GA VOICE, passed away on March 30, 2014. He was admitted into the emergency room at Atlanta Medical Center on Friday, March 28, where doctors determined he had a dissection on his aorta, a severe condition. After undergoing a 10-hour surgery, he died due to the severity of his condition and complications from undergoing open-heart surgery. He was 48. In 2011 as cartoonist for the GA Voice, he won third place for Best Original Editorial Cartoon in the National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper contest.

UNITE NASHVILLE celebrated its one-year anniversary with its March/April 2014 issue.

WINDY CITY TIMES, based in Chicago, hosted a summit May 2-5, 2014, on LGBTQ youth in the Chicago region, to assess the current issues impacting homeless youth, and new solutions to these complex issues. The title of the summit was "Owning Our Lives: Dream It. Speak It. Do It!!" Speakers included openly gay Illinois state Rep. GREG HARRIS and ESPN commentator and CNN contributor LZ GRANDERSON.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 16
Issue 1/2

Thursday, May 1, 2014

TOP STORY: Ad sales, circulation and readership all up for LGBT media

The annual Gay Press Report, just released, shows LGBT print getting even stronger
by Chuck Colbert

Dollars spent on advertising in LGBT media for 2013 reached a record high of $381.4 million, according to a recently released report on gay media.  And that record high represents an 18.2 percent increase from the previous year. At the same time, circulation and readership of LGBT media is also up a healthy 15.1 percent.

Some other key findings from The Gay Press Report include:

•  Individual titles of gay newspapers and magazines are at roughly the same numbers as 2012, with an addition of only three new publications.

•   Combined circulation of all LGBT publications is estimated at 2.7 million — and growing.

•  Nine out of every 10 dollars spent in the gay press continues to be spent locally, with LGBT press consisting primarily of trusted community-owned businesses that reflect the specific need, interests and tastes of its readership.

•  Gay specific ads are on the upswing — despite a two-year dip — as the percentage of ads with explicit references to gay and lesbian life in graphics and/or written messages stands at 56.2 percent — up 3.7 percent.

Overall, the record high in ad sales revenue reached in 2013 suggests that gay media has more than recovered from the recent recession, according to the report. In 2010, spending plummeted to $153.9 million from the previous high of $349.6 million, a record set in 2009 before the recession took hold over the economy.

By way of comparison, advertising sales revenue in consumer magazines — estimated at $10.3 billion — has continued to drop despite a small (1.3 percent) increase in 2010.

Upbeat reaction to report findings

No surprise here: LGBT media publishers and editors alike, along with industry observers, welcomed news of the gay print success story.

“What a nice surprise to see both sales and circulation up by double digits,” said Todd Evans, president and chief executive officer of Rivendell Media, publisher of the report. Rivendell is the nation’s leading gay and lesbian America’s media placement firm, securing national advertising in the gay press since 1979. (Evans is also publisher of Press Pass Q.)

“Print media remains an important part of the toolkit for any company trying to reach the diverse LGBT community,” said Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of Chicago-based Windy City Times. “This report shows that regional LGBT print media are especially key to national advertising campaigns. The LGBT community is among the most loyal of consumers, and they pay attention to brands that are creative and inclusive in their marketing efforts. It’s no longer good enough to say you have achieved a 100 percent ranking on LGBT issues. Brands need to dedicate marketing dollars to this niche, to fully communicate their diversity goals and to see a return on investment.”

As veteran LGBT media industry observer Bob Witeck noted, “America’s gay newspapers and publications so often are the heart of the LGBT community. It is very encouraging to see the growth trends and resiliency of the community’s legacy press.” Witeck is president of Witeck Communications, a firm that provides strategic public relations and marketing communications services for corporate and non-profit clients. Since 1993, Witeck has advised major corporations and marketers on ways to connect with LGBT audiences and households.

Now in its 19th year, the annual Gay Press Report provides a unique historical perspective on the LGBT press and consumer market. The report tracks all advertising and revenue in the gay press, including local newspapers, local LGBT magazines and guides, and national LGBT magazines. All titles are gathered from the month of April insofar as it is considered an average month in the gay media cycle. All advertising is then categorized, measured, and tracked. The information is extrapolated for all 12 months of the calendar year.


Print is not dead

Of course, the gay press report’s upbeat findings beg the question: In the Internet era of online publications and blogs — and the much-repeated refrain that “print is dead” — what accounts for the resiliency of the LGBT press and its robust performance?

“My gut is that more and more corporate advertisers are looking to invest in LGBT advertising, which makes the LGBT press healthier,” said David Paisley, senior research director at the San Francisco-based consumer research company Community Marketing, Inc.

“Remember that in this segment, even just 10 years ago, the LGBT regional press had little corporate advertising,” said Paisley. “Also remember with the exception of just a handful of national LGBT magazines, regional newspapers are the only print options. That is in contrast to the general population, where there are hundreds if not thousands of national magazine options. In addition, many corporate clients like to geo-segment their audience. LGBT regional press provides a perfect opportunity to target specific metro areas.”

Finally, Paisley said, “Many LGBT regional newspapers have made a strategic shift to be more corporate-advertising friendly by eliminating adult content/advertisers, and concentrating on more ‘serious’ editorial.”

Rivendell’s Evans and industry observer Witeck offered their perspectives on the manifest vitality of gay print.

Gay media professionals “are creating a quality product,” said Witeck. “LGBT papers today are a quantum leap from what they were 20 years ago and much better than 10 years ago. Over those years, they have become safer for advertisers, and there are more brands.”

In addition, “The wedding boom has helped,” Witeck said.

Overall, “The value is compelling,” he said, “because advertisers like and know the readership.”

Furthermore, “The CPM, or cost per thousands, is very affordable for [gay] community press. Nickel for nickel, you get more for your dollar,” said Witeck.

Evans said there is no magic bullet that explains LGBT media’s recording-breaking numbers this past year.

The economy is a “little better,” he said. “Coming out of the recession, people are spending more across the board.” Additionally, “digital [advertising] is perfect for some in the dot-com” landscape where “you want somebody to see a banner [ad] and click through to a site,” he explained.

Still, “For most advertisers, it’s about branding and creating an image,” Evans said, raising the question: How do you stand out? “If you want to stand out in a cluttered environment, buy the back cover of Curve Magazine. It’s the only national lesbian title. No one else is there, and no one is in your field of vision.”

Jerry Cunningham, publisher of Denver-based Out Front Colorado, is a big proponent of print advertising’s ability to build brand awareness, as well as “reliability” and “trust.”

Print ads, he went on to say, have critical “interrupt value.”

If you open up a regional LGBT magazine or newspaper,” Cunningham said, “and see a full-page ad talking about an event or certain company, it has interrupt value. It interrupts your consciousness and you say, ‘Wow. That must be a really big deal because it’s not cheap to get a full-page ad to advertise.’”

The success formula at Out Front, Cunningham said, is a three-part mix of “engaging content, true brand partners that make sense in your media mix, and an engaged audience.” (For more on Out Front Colorado, see sidebar below.)

For her part, publisher Baim points to LGBT media’s distinctive location on the information highway as some measure of print’s vibrancy.

“I think that niche print still provides a unique place for advertisers to connect to readers. With so much competition online, the irony now is that print is a cleaner way for advertisers to target the market,” she said. “I think advertisers need to do both print and online to get a comprehensive outreach to the LGBT community, but many studies have shown that reader engagement is a lot stronger for advertising that appears in print publications. That is why Vanity Fair still does so well in print form. If there are more ads, that means more pages overall and more copies of the paper can be printed.”

And yet Baim cautioned, “While the media report is strong, I still believe that the future is unknown for many forms of print, including LGBT media. Even with great response for advertisers, and studies that show certain forms of print publications are doing quite well, it is still important to communicate this information to marketers, to convince them that LGBT print publications serve an important role in their campaigns, as a proven way to reach loyal readers.”

TOP STORY
Volume 16
Issue 1/2

SIDEBAR: LGBT print alive and climbing in the Rocky Mountains

by Chuck Colbert

Out Front Colorado publisher Jerry Cunningham was not at all that surprised with so much good news in The Gay Press Report for 2013. But, he said, “If we had this conversation a few years ago, I would have been surprised. I was one of the believers that print media was the Titanic. However, I was completely wrong. It’s very validating to know that” Out Front’s success is “not an unique anomaly or weird Colorado magic sauce.”

For Cunningham — and for that matter, LGBT publications coast to coast and in between — local coverage is paramount.
In the Rocky Mountains, to be specific, a key ingredient in Out Front’s “magic sauce,” Cunningham said, is to “concentrate on community members and those who read the publication.”

More to the point, as the publication’s mission puts it: Out Front (www.Out Frontonline.com) is a place “where you belong.”

“It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight ally,” he explained. “You can pick up the publication and within the first two to three pages of content, you should have a sense of belonging.”

True enough, Cunningham’s approach is philosophical. “All people want in the world is to be accepted,” he said. “People want to be acknowledge for who they are.”

Everybody, Cunningham explained, carries “a sign,” which is a kind of an identity marker saying, “This is who I am.”

At Out Front, “We try to lift up the sign or look under it to see who the person really is deep down inside. What are they committed to and value in life? When you take the time to do that, you create a powerful bond with that person, an extended family relationship. If you acknowledge someone for who [he or she] really [is], which might be different from who they portray themselves to be on their sign, you have a friend for life and a relationship that can last forever. That’s not because you want your publication to thrive. That’s because you want to have an amazing, connected life.”

For LGBTs, moreover, finding acceptance is at times a challenge. “When you are growing up, depending on how you were raised,” Cunningham said, “you are told, ‘Gay is wrong. Gay means you won’t be successful, Gay means you won’t have a family, won’t be married. You will always be less-than in life.’

“So when you figure out you are gay, you spend your entire life trying to fit in, trying to be loved, trying to succeed, and overachieving — always striving to be more than. And I truly believe that’s why there are so many successful gay people. Being creative is what allows [LGBTs] to thrive.”

Altogether, Out Front’s editorial content is 85 to 90 percent locally focused, he said.

“In terms of regional media,” for content, Cunningham said, “we are dialing it in to individuals, which is what Obama did” during the 2012 presidential election, with the campaign’s micro targeting of potential voters.

Sure enough, local coverage dovetails with another piece of Out Front’s “magic sauce” — a three part mix of “engaging content, true brand partnerships, and an engaged audience.”

It’s the affirmation and acknowledgment of people for who they truly are that creates an engaged audience and attracts brand partners, he believes.

For that reason, Out Front is “more than a magazine,” according to its media kit. “We are a social, print, and digital platform for the LGBT and allied community to connect, explore, advocate, communicate, celebrate and exist exactly where they belong.”

With “content as queen,” and by including diverse voices, one overarching goal of Out Front is to connect advertisers — and their various brands — to readers with LGBT news and politics, opinion pieces, local nonprofit and business profiles and legal resources, as well as with coverage of arts and culture, food and restaurants, bars and nightlife, travel and tourism, community sports, celebrities, and national events, along with stories of faith and spirituality, health and fitness, real estate, home design, beauty, fashion, and relationships and sexuality. It’s an all-terrain, three-pronged approach of “focus, social, and living,” according to the media kit.

Out Front Colorado publisher Jerry Cunningham (left)
with partner JC McDonald
Out Front by the numbers also provides some hard data behind the publication’s “magic sauce”:

• More than 70,000  readers per month
• 41,000 unique page views
• 1.4 million social media virability
• 28,000 monthly email impressions
• 24 semi-monthly print issues per year
• 100-plus Colorado newsstands

Founded in 1976, Out Front Colorado is one of the oldest and longest running LGBT publications in the country. Its 12,000 copies (usually 48 pages) are published and provided free to readers on the first and third Wednesday of each month, primarily in metropolitan Denver but also throughout the state.

Last November, Out Front published a short video to tell its story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_brictFyqxc&feature=youtube.

In addition, Out Front publishes four quarterly guides throughout the year, including a Living Guide, Pride/Summer Guide, Health & Wellness Guide and Winter Holiday Guide.

A Colorado native, Cunningham and his partner, JC McDonald, acquired Out Front and its parent company, Q Publishing, in January 2012.

“We don’t need to fudge our numbers,” said Cunningham. “Transparency and authenticity” are two key ingredients of our “magic sauce at Out Front.”

SIDEBAR
Volume 16
Issue 1/2

GUEST COMMENTARY: A formula for print-media success

by Mark Segal

(Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.)

Over the last few years, we have all read about the perils of print media, or “old media” as some like to call it, and I’ve done numerous columns on the subject. The bottom line for media outlets is that you need to report on events, issues and topics that you as a publication own, and have a professional staff that knows how to publish that information in a way the community can get its hands around it. Oh, one more important point: Don’t be afraid to be controversial or write something that someone or some organization or business might not like.

The web, which most traditional media see as the enemy, only has two factors that print does not. It can be an instantaneous forum, satisfying those who need instant gratification (but that at times can lead to misinformation or personal venom) and it is cheap to run. Those advantages are easily met by a print publication that has a professional staff that can take the time to get the story right, and also through its letters to the editor and op-ed pieces, which provide a forum for those who want to comment on the story. Here is where the difference should be seen: In print, we should not allow personal attacks but only those that add to the discussion of issues.

Our named opinion columns should be where we are somewhat controversial. Allow your columnist to give his or her opinions. Also allow those who disagree to do so in print in your publication. As a publication, you can meet any challenge, with the exception of being out there instantly. Then again, we in print will have to at some point make a change to the ’net. PGN already has a web presence at www.epgn.com, where you can read our digital version or go through PGN page by page. But soon more will be required; we know that, and so does the rest of traditional media. And we are all searching for that formula.

Those who have a good product and good business model will prosper. We here at PGN are proud to be the nation’s most-award-winning publication for the LGBT community. And we’re even more proud that you as a community feel as strongly as you do about us, as every area of PGN’s business is on the rise. If you look at what we wrote in our first edition, you’d see we haven’t changed that much. I’ll paraphrase: “We intend to be a forum for communication in this community. You won’t always agree with us, but we’ll give you the space to disagree with us when you feel compelled to. What we intend to do is earn your trust.”

From your support, we believe we’ve done just that.

That, we here at PGN believe, is the true meaning of success.

GUEST COMMENTARY
Volume 16
Issue 1/2