Tuesday, September 30, 2014

D.C.'s Metro Weekly marks 20th anniversary

by Chuck Colbert

A glossy LGBT newsmagazine based in the nation’s capital achieved a significant milestone earlier this year when Metro Weekly celebrated its 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, staffers published a 112-page commemorative issue featuring a retrospective spotlight on the publication’s history, including 20 interviews, 20 features and 20 questions pertaining to the magazine.

The May 1 issue also contained two pieces looking back on the publication’s two decades worth of providing news, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment, and "Scene" photographs from events and venues. In fact, the “Scene” section has archived more than a 100,000 photos from Washington LGBT community events online.

In the 20th anniversary issue, here’s how founder, publisher and editor in chief Randy Shulman recalled the first issue of Metro Weekly:

“Running around frantically in my tiny apartment at the corner of 17th and T Streets, [I was] scrambling to get the very first issue of Metro Arts & Entertainment Weekly written and to the printer,” he wrote. “I don’t have clear, detailed memories of it, apart from recalling that pages were laid out in PageMaker on a monochrome IBM computer — floppy disks! — printed out on a cheap black and white laser printer, and then pasted onto templates through the aid of a hot-glue gun. The pages were then bound into a loose-leaf three-ring binder — ‘the book,’ as it came to be known — which was then raced to the printer by car and handed off, relay style, to the camera department. From there, I always said, ‘It’s in God’s hands.’ God, in this case, being the printing press, which would not break down and create a distribution delay. God forbid.”

Over the years, changes came, including the name change (from Metro Arts & Entertainment Weekly to Metro Weekly), as well as changes in format (to full glossy magazine in the last few years). 

And yet, Shulman said, the mission remained constant: “To create a magazine — and a website — that speaks to the LGBT community, locally and beyond, in a literate, interesting and, whenever possible, unique way,” he wrote. “A magazine that covers things that are more than just LGBT-oriented, because as LGBT people, we are interested in things beyond our own microcosm.”

For Shulman and Metro Weekly, the advance of LGBT rights and the changing landscape of LGBT equality played pivotal roles, featuring prominently in the publication’s coverage at the same time the media landscape transformed rapidly and significantly.

“The fight for equality has begat same-sex marriage, the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and a rise in our awareness and a fuller understanding of our transgender brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “These two decades have seen monumental advances in combating HIV/AIDS, though we’ve lost so many in that time and still have such a long way to go. And the view, from 1994 to 2014, has changed so dramatically that we routinely browse the world outside our all-too-often confining borders thanks to this little always-connected thing they call The Interwebs. These changes have been reflected in our pages, often through the words of the people who were working hard to implement them.”

During a telephone interview, Shulman added, “I’ve always put a prize on putting out a quality, creative, interesting, engaging publication. We are a unique magazine in the way that I think a magazine should read. I always joke that Metro Weekly is a gay version of The New Yorker.”

Shulman’s philosophy guides the magazine’s style. “There’s a Metro Weekly way to things, a Metro Weekly way to write articles, a Metro Weekly way to do Q&As,” he said. “We have a very specific way we do things, a very unique approach that is important to Metro Weekly’s history.”

For his part, Sean Bugg, who over the years served as both the magazine's editor and co-publisher, offered a first-person perspective.

“Twenty years ago when Metro Weekly first came off the press, it was a lot like me at the time: a little slapdash, bursting with energy and a bit naïve,” he wrote in the anniversary issue. “I mean all those things in a good way — it was slapdash because we had an idea for a magazine and simply decided to plow ahead. It was a moment when naiveté paid off because the young rush in where experience fears to tread.

“We went by our nickname ‘MW’ in those days, one of the many ways in which the magazine then is different than the magazine today. It was smaller then, designed for easy pick up in the days when our distribution was limited to bars, restaurants and a couple of retail stores. It was black and white with spot color — ‘spot color’ being a difficult concept to explain to a generation that grew up with home printers that output high-res rainbows in seconds flat.

“The magazine now goes by its given name and at a glance is a barely recognizable adult compared to its newsprint youth. Metro Weekly lives in a different package these days. And what lives in that package today is different from what popped into existence 20 years ago. As you’ll see when you page (or scroll!) through this issue, our scope has changed and our ambition has grown. But you can recognize us between the lines and behind the design of those first few years — the hunger for interesting stories, the commitment to excellent writing, the willingness to try new things and push the boundaries of what a gay publication could be.”

All in all, Bugg wrote, “A magazine is more than a stack of stapled paper or a hosted web domain. A magazine is an attitude toward and a passion for a particular realm — for Metro Weekly, that attitude and passion always has been for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. That’s what I see when I look back on the amazing journey we’ve taken from the spring of 1994 to today. The package may have changed and the approach may have matured, but I’ll always recognize the passion on the page.”

During a telephone interview, Bugg said he was “very proud” of the staying power of the magazine that “went through a lot of evolutions. We have done things with a non-traditional attitude. That attitude and the focus on writing and stories that are interesting and entertaining,” he added, distinguish Metro Weekly and explain the role it plays in the nation’s capital and beyond.

At the end of 2013, Bugg left Metro Weekly and is now executive director of the Next Generation Leadership Foundation. He remains the magazine's editor emeritus and an occasional contributor. 

Metro Weekly publishes every Thursday with a circulation of 17,500.

Volume 16
Issue 6

Monday, September 29, 2014


(What’s happening at your publication? Let us know at editor@presspassq.com.)

BAY AREA REPORTER, based in San Francisco, has moved its offices to the city’s upper Market area, at 44 Gough Street, Suite 204. Since last fall, BAR had been housed in the downtown offices of SF MEDIA COMPANY, parent of the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN and SF WEEKLY.

THE BILERICO PROJECT (BILERICO.COM) celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sept. 27, 2014.

JONATHAN BUGG is the new editorial director of DAVID ATLANTA.

COMPETE MAGAZINE, based in Phoenix, Ariz., has launched a Southern California edition called COMPETE SOCAL.

BRIAN DEWITT has retired from his position as associate editor of Cleveland, Ohio-based GAY PEOPLE’S CHRONICLE. He has been part of the newspaper’s staff since its founding in 1985.

GAY PEOPLE’S CHRONICLE, based in Cleveland, Ohio, entered its 30th year of publication with its July 11, 2014, issue.

THE LESBIAN NEWS, based in Torrance, Calif., entered its 40th year of publication with its August 2014 issue.

MULTIMEDIA PLATFORMS LLC, publisher of FLORIDA AGENDA and GUY MAGAZINE, has moved its corporate headquarters to Fort Lauderdale from Wilton Manors, Fla.


Staff at Rage Monthly
KARA J. PHILP is the new managing editor of Phoenix, Ariz.-based ECHO MAGAZINE.

QNOTES, based in Charlotte, N.C., held its first annual QList—Best of LGBT Charlotte Awards Reception on July 17, 2014.

RAGE MONTHLY, based in San Diego, Calif., was named Outstanding Publication for the fourth consecutive year by the Nicky Awards, one of the West Coast’s oldest LGBT community awards.

MEGAN RAPINOE, a midfielder for the Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League and a member of the U.S. women’s national team, was the guest editor of THE WASHINGTON BLADE’s second annual sports issue published on August 22, 2014.

WIRE MAGAZINE, based in Miami, Fla., has launched WIREMAG, its new branding strategy that will include its print, digital and online content.

Volume 16
Issue 6

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TOP STORY: Diversity issues take center stage at LGBT Media Summit

NLGJA convention kicks off with discussion of trans coverage and inclusion
by Chuck Colbert

CHICAGO — More than 300 LGBT news industry professionals and allies attended the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s (NLGJA) annual convention and 10th LGBT Media Summit, a four-day gathering held this year August 21-24 at Chicago’s landmark Palmer House Hilton. The theme was “Breaking Barriers.”

During the main convention, attendees heard keynote speakers, panelists, and workshop leaders address a variety of topics, including diversity coverage of the LGBT community, the intersection of activism and religion, coming out in professional sports, and trends in social media.

A one-day summit focusing solely on LGBT media featured two plenary sessions, one on how to better cover transgender persons and issues and another on the future of journalism funding. Breakout sessions focused on HIV/AIDS coverage in LGBT media, the future of lesbian media, out athletes and sports reporting, African Americans in LGBT media, and the future of blogging, social media, and mobile reporting.

Windy City Times publisher and executive editor Tracy Baim, co-chair of the LGBT Media Summit, was pleased with the day’s proceedings.

“All the panelists brought their A game,” she said. “The transgender plenary panel kicked off the day fantastically. Also the funding plenary was really informative. I felt like the way foundations are now funding journalism was interesting for me to hear, how it has changed just in the last two years, what they fund — infrastructure versus projects. I didn’t realize those changes were happening. So throughout the day, I was surprised what I was learning even though I knew the panelists and read a lot about them in organizing the summit.”

Baim said that an overarching goal for the summit was to make it as diverse as possible. “I think a goal for the media summit next year would be even more diversity,” she said, suggesting “a whole track of transgender workshops. This year’s plenary only touched the tip of the iceberg.”

Transgender journalists panel

The opening plenary, “Transgender Journalists and Transgender Coverage in LGBT Media,” was moderated by Fiona Dawson and featured journalists Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer, Christina Kahrl, Parker Molloy, and Andre Perez.

During the 90-minute discussion, panelists agreed generally that transgender media presentations might well have reached a “tipping point” in 2014 with Laverne Cox’s appearance on the June 9 cover of Time magazine. Cox is perhaps best known for her role in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.”

Nonetheless, Chicago-based sports journalist Kahrl, who works for ESPN.com as an editor and writer, sounded a cautionary note.
LGBT Media Summit opening plenary panelists
(left to right) Parker Molloy, Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer,
Andre Perez, Christina Kahrl, and moderator
Fiona Dawson (photo: Hal Baim)

“We are definitely at a critical moment in terms of trans visibility in both the media and in society at large,” she said. “But the question is whether society’s pivoting from this moment is going to be entirely positive. It’s not. Progress is not linear. It’s going to be a situation that we have seen time and time again, backlash, negative responses, negative coverage, [and] not just in mainstream media newsrooms, but also unfortunately in LGBT media newsrooms.”

On the positive side, Chicago-based Perez, facilitator at StoryCorps, pointed to Windy City Times and a “series of different transgender reporters” with “representation on the front page and middle pages and back page and throughout that publication. That’s not something I see in other kinds of media. We are at a moment of explosion of visibility, and I think that has good consequences, but I am not sure I can point to a lot of specific stories that are done right.”

For her part, Blickensderfer, an account manager and writer for Windy City Times, noted, “A lot of trans people are writing their own blogs” or “putting their stories on You Tube," or “self publishing. A lot of these are unedited and terribly honest.”

A transgender essayist and advocate from Chicago, Molloy added, “There is no one transgender narrative, and the media is still struggling to gather that.”

To improve coverage, she said, stories ought to move beyond “trans people talking about trans people and making money off of being trans.” While there is nothing wrong with that, Molloy explained, “You have trans lawyers, doctors, and teachers.”

Added Kahrl, “The notion that trans people have careers that anybody would want is an important message; and something that again both needs to be [communicated] so that people making hiring decisions understand that, yeah, I can hire trans people, trans people have talent. That’s a positive message that people need to hear more about and see more of as opposed to just trans people just talking about themselves and their own issues.”

A focus on transgender coverage at the media summit notwithstanding, a variety of diversity issues rolled over into the main convention when the opening panel tackled hits and misses in covering the LGBT community.

Cathy Renna, who moderated that session, said without a doubt, “The biggest issue for media — mainstream, LGBT media, and social media — is diversity. The issue is really about inclusion. Are we really looking at the way our community reflects the larger culture and our issues? There is no such thing as a gay issue or LGBT issue anymore. They are human rights issues [with] so many intersections, and we are missing so many stories. I think it was perfectly natural that everything we talked about at [the media summit] came up during the main convention discussion about diversity."

Renna is a senior executive vice president at Target Cue, LLC, a consultancy that specializes in providing public relations and marketing communications services to not-for-profit organizations seeking to reach highly-defined audiences.

Reactions and takeaway messages

Renna offered her thoughts on key takeaway messages from the LGBT Media Summit.

Even as “mainstream media continues to do a better, more sophisticated job covering LGBT issues,” she said, “the LGBT media still needs to be on the vanguard. The LGBT media continues to struggle financially because it is in a very competitive environment. As I said before, as coming from someone who is not a journalist, [the community] really needs to advocate and support LGBT media because it continues to be the first place to go to when you really need to know what’s going on and what issues are emerging.”

For Michelangelo Signorile, an important takeaway message is “that we have to keep growing and that we can’t think that we have achieved something and that it’s all done. I think there has been an idea all across the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender world, particularly with marriage equality, that we have arrived when in fact, no, there are a multitude of issues. It’s just that transforming, taking on a culture is a much bigger issue than getting rights.”

A host on Sirius XM Radio and editor-at-large for Huffington Post, Signorile recently completed a book, “It’s Not Over:  Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality,” to be published next spring by Houghton Mifflin.

Asked for his thoughts on the LGBT Media Summit, Signorile said what interested him most “was the changing landscape of the media and how younger people are coming to this changed landscape and really mastering a lot of these skills. ... A lot of those editors on the blogs and social media are younger. So how do we transform ... LGBT media in this era? Also, the issues are changing. How do we cover transgender issues in a way that really brings light to the subject rather than the heat and sensationalism, which we have seen in the past on gay issues, seen it change a bit, but not yet on transgender issues.”

Sarah Toce, founder and publisher of The Seattle Lesbian, said being “all in this together” was an important takeaway message.

“We are all doing this for the same reasons, but obviously we all have our various segments and why we are special at what we do,” she explained. “To come together at a conference like this and be able to share that knowledge is invaluable in getting to know better what LGBT media can do.”

Toce and Baim, along with Trish Bendix, a Los Angeles-based writer and managing editor of AfterEllen.com, led the panel discussion, “The Future of Lesbian Media,” during the summit.

One mainstream press reporter, Jeremy Fox of The Boston Globe, found the NLGJA gathering important for his work. “One of the great things about the LGBT Media Summit, and the conference more generally, is hearing so many voices that I don't usually get to hear while trying to serve a wider audience that may not have a good understanding of issues in the LGBT community or even know that there is not one monolithic community, but many smaller communities that recognize common struggles and try to support one another,” he said.

“The transgender panel in particular was a rare opportunity to hear thoughtful — and forceful — perspectives on how that community is covered and how transgender journalists navigate their worlds,” said Fox, vice president of NLGJA’s Boston chapter. “It's unusual to hear one trans person exploring those issues in public, so to hear four perspectives and to hear the panelists exchanging ideas and comparing experiences was enlightening. It got me thinking about how I can cover transgender issues for wider audiences in a way that respects those unique personal experiences and doesn't impose a one-size-fits-all narrative about what it means to be trans.”

A main takeaway for Mark King, an HIV/AIDS activist, educator, and blogger, was “simply the thrill of being in the company of other writers,” he said. “This can be an isolating profession, writing our best and then releasing it to the blogosphere, often relying only on trolls and contrarians for feedback. So, to spend time in person with other writers is a joy and a real inspiration to me. And, as somewhat of a niche writer who focuses primarily on gay men, HIV and addiction issues, it was enlightening to learn from the many workshops focusing on other important issues that I feel certain will find a place in my future work.”

King, who moderated a panel discussion on HIV/AIDS reporting, offered a critique of LGBT media’s coverage of the epidemic. “We, as LGBT media, are doing a disservice to our community by attributing the lack of in-depth HIV coverage on factors such as reader ‘fatigue,’” he said. “There are compelling, new stories to tell. HIV criminalization, the inanity of the PrEP ‘debate,’ and the slow but sure melding of HIV positive and negative status are remarkable and untold stories. In the absence of adequate coverage, the vacuum is filled with misinformation and fear, which has plagued us since the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, and frankly, we should know better.”

King received NLGJA’s award for excellence in blogging for “My Fabulous Disease.”

Next year, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association celebrates its 25th anniversary. The convention is scheduled for Sept. 3-6 in San Francisco.

Windy City Times’ coverage of the media summit and main convention, which includes video clips of various panels, plenaries, and awards reception, is available at http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/LGBT-journalists-convene-in-Chicago/48742.html.

Volume 16
Issue 6

SIDEBAR: LGBT media professionals Tracy Baim and Lisa Keen inducted into NLGJA Hall of Fame

by Chuck Colbert

CHICAGO — The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association added two more members of LGBT media to its Hall of Fame roster.

Tracy Baim (left) and Lisa Keen (photo: Hal Baim)
They are Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of Chicago’s Windy City Times, and veteran journalist Lisa Keen, founder and chief correspondent of Keen News Service, which specializes in national legal and political news and provides such content to LGBT news organizations from coast to coast.

Another 2014 inductee was Donna Cartwright, a veteran copy editor at the New York Times, also a longtime transgender LGBT and labor activist.

“This year’s selections are deeply rewarding,” said Bob Witeck, chair of the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame Task Force. “All three share lifelong habits reporting our stories through solid journalism while inspiring us with their dedication to truth.”

NLGJA made its formal Hall of Fame inductions on Saturday evening, August 23, during the closing awards reception at the organization’s national convention in Chicago.

Baim and Keen were on hand to receive their respective honors.

An author, filmmaker, and historian, in addition to publisher and editor, Baim began her career at Gay Life newspaper in 1984, a month after graduating from Drake University. She co-founded Windy City Times in 1985 and Outlines newspaper in 1987. Lambda Publications, the parent company of Outlines, bought Windy City Times in 2000 and merged it with Outlines, and the parent company became Windy City Media Group.

NJGLA selected Tracy Baim in part for her lifelong passion for journalism and love of history, as well as her fierce human-rights advocacy. To that end, Baim has championed equality in battling sexism, racism and homophobia. For example, she received NLGJA’s 2014 first-place award for excellence in opinion/editorial for "The content of our character: Trayvon and us."

“NLGJA, while it did not originally embrace LGBT media as part of its mission, has really changed that in the past decade,” said Baim. “They have honored several LGBT media people, including Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News last year. So it was a great honor to be inducted into the NLGJA Hall of Fame this year alongside Lisa Keen and Donna Cartwright.

“What is even more wonderful is how many great journalists are in the Hall of Fame, including Jill Johnston, Randy Wicker, Michelangelo Signorile, Deb Price, Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen, Marlon Riggs and more. This makes me feel overwhelmed to be in the company of these giants of mainstream and LGBT media history.”

In brief remarks at the awards reception, Baim also voiced praise for the important role NLGJA has played in the LGBT rights struggle.

“The national LGBT community does not understand that NLGJA is probably one of the most important organizations that has effected change for our movement behind the scenes,” she said. “There are many other organizations that are political and activist, but NLGJA, behind the scenes, has influenced change immensely.”

For more than 35 years, Lisa Keen has been reporting news for LGBT audiences and is frequently considered the dean of gay political reporting in America. During her career, she served for 18 years as editor of one of the nation’s most respected gay publications, The Washington Blade. Keen was one of the first two reporters for a gay newspaper to be credentialed to cover the White House and Congress. She has covered U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1985 and is one of the only reporters to carefully analyze gay voting trends in presidential elections.

In addition, Keen won the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for her coverage of an anti-gay initiative in Colorado and the subsequent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans, as well as a Society of Professional Journalists award for her series of interviews — from diagnosis to death — with one of the first gay men to develop AIDS in the early 1980s. Keen is also co-author of :Strangers to the Law: Gay People on Trial,” published in 2000.

NLGJA selected Lisa Keen in part for her tireless commitment to reporting stories that matter most to LGBT people.

“I really appreciated the acknowledgement,” said Keen. “And it prompted me to think back on my own career and realize what a wild ride it has been — what wonderful opportunities, surreal moments, and even scary experiences I had. I think so many of us are so busy rushing from one breaking news story to the next one, we don't take much time to look back. And it's just a really good feeling to have others in the business stop you and say, 'Hey, you — you did good.'”

In brief remarks at the awards reception, Keen spoke of the role LGBT media has played over the decades. Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, she said, a gay newspaper, like the Washington Blade, “was critical to the community. It was a matter of life and death” during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Things have changed,” she said. “Our mainstream daily newspapers cover gay stories even more than our gay community newspapers.”
Still, Keen said, “Gay newspapers are as vital to our community now as back then.”

“I am very proud to have been part of the gay media these past couple of decades or more,” she said in closing. “Wherever we end up in 10 years, I hope I am still at it and enjoying it as much as I do now.”

In 2005, NLGJA established the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame to recognize journalists for their commitment, courage, and dedication to LGBT issues in the media. Since then, NLGJA has honored a total of 25 journalists in the LGBT community.

Volume 16
Issue 6