Friday, October 28, 2016

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

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

STAMPP CORBIN, publisher of SAN DIEGO LGBT WEEKLY, is now also CEO of the new BLVD
San Diego LGBT Weekly
Publisher Stampp Corbin
Treatment Center located in San Diego’s heavily gay Hillcrest neighborhood. BLVD Treatment Centers is a substance abuse treatment organization with locations in California and Oregon.

ECHOMAG.COM, a print publication based in Phoenix, Ariz., entered its 28th year of publication with its October 2016 issue.

GAY VEGAS, based in Las Vegas, celebrated its 19th anniversary with its July 2016 issue.

HOTSPOTS MEDIA GROUP, based in Wilton Manors, Fla., announced that PETER JACKSON has joined the organization as Vice President, General Manager.

Former Bay Windows
Editor Susan Ryan-Vollmar
JACK VEASY, a former managing for PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS from its founding in 1976 to 1979, died in July 2016. He was a poet and playwright as well as a journalist. He also wrote for the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE and PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER, as well as other publications. He published 11 collections of poetry. He was 60.

Q MAGAZINE, based in Key West, Fla., celebrated its 10th anniversary in its September 2016 issue.

SUSAN RYAN-VOLLMAR, a former editor of Boston-based BAY WINDOWS, is this year’s recipient of the History Maker Award from the History Project, which documents and preserves Boston’s LGBT history. As editor of the BOSTON PHOENIX, she contributed reporting that revealed the Boston Archdiocese’s child sex abuse scandal.

MARK THOMPSON, a former editor of THE ADVOCATE and a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor, died at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., in August 2016. He worked for the magazine as a writer and editor from 1975-1994. A memorial service was held September 18 at ONE Institute in L.A. He was 63.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 18
Issue 7

California's Frontiers suspends publication after owner declares bankruptcy

by Joe Siegel

Los Angeles-based Frontiers magazine has suspended publication due to the financial problems of its parent company, Multimedia Platforms Worldwide (MMP).

On October 4, the company, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the Washington Blade, Multimedia Platforms Worldwide states in its bankruptcy petition that its estimated assets are less than $50,000 and its estimated liabilities exceed $1 million and could be as much as $10 million.

The bankruptcy filing comes just under two weeks after its largest creditor filed a lawsuit against MMP in Boston, accusing it of defaulting on a $1.75 million loan agreement and engaging in “fraudulent” and “negligent” misrepresentations in the information it provided to secure the loan.

The creditor, White Winston Select Asset Funds LLC of Boston, requested and received from a Suffolk County, Mass., Superior Court judge a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seizing all of MMP’s assets. The lawsuit shows that the terms of the loan called for the company to put up virtually all of its assets as collateral for the loan.

Late last month, MMP laid off staff at Frontiers and four of its other publications, including Next magazine, which serves New York City, and Florida Agenda.

Frontiers has served Southern California's LGBT community for 35 years.
 
According to MMP CEO and founder Bobby Blair, a court order had been issued seizing his assets, as well as a restraining order “prohibiting the company from distributing any cash or any other assets of the company.” The staff of Frontiers will likely not be paid until the suit is resolved.

The bankruptcy filing was expected to give MMP a reprieve from the seizure of its assets and its impending default on numerous loans from other creditors based on an “automatic stay” on collection activities brought about by a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

South Florida Gay News has reported over the past several months that MMP has reported in its own financial statements filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it was faced with serious and possibly insurmountable financial problems. The company also billed itself as the nation’s only publicly-traded LGBT media company.

Ironically, Blair had boasted of the company's success in a March 2016 press release: “Today, we own five publications encapsulating a readership of nearly 7.5 million, 4.8 million unique visitors annually and over 200,000 social media followers.”

Frontiers has suffered financial turmoil before. In March 2013, the publication filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the following year it was purchased by Michael Turner, who aimed to expand the magazine's reader base and increase its digital presence. Despite these goals, Frontiers continued to struggle and was sold again in 2015, this time to Blair.

Although Blair had stepped down as CEO four months ago, according to an SEC filing on June 30, which covered the six-month period when he was actively at the company's helm, MMP "recognized net revenue of $1,459,168 and a net loss of $4,698,798 and had negative working capital of $5,518,237.”

MMP has had other legal troubles as well, with a lawsuit filed against it earlier this year by another Florida publisher alleging violation of a no-compete agreement by a former employee hired by the company. 

And Karen Ocamb, the longtime Frontiers news editor, filed a complaint of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the magazine let her go in February.

TOP STORY
Volume 18
Issue 7

AfterEllen shuts down citing financial reasons

by Joe Siegel

Popular blog AfterEllen has shut down after more than 10 years of operation. The site featured lesbian news and entertainment.

Editor in chief Trish Bendix announced on her personal website that the blog was shutting down on September 23.

Bendix, who won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media in 2015, said the decision to end the blog was due to financial reasons.

“Here are the facts: Evolve Media purchased AfterEllen from Viacom two years ago,” Bendix wrote. “They gave us two fiscal years to become their LGBT property and profit in that space, and they found we are not as profitable as moms and fashion. And, yes, ‘they’ are mainly white heterosexual men, which is important to note because not only is this the story for us, but for a lot of other properties.”

Bendix lamented the loss of the website, noting it had served as a haven for lesbian and bisexual women: “Somewhere, there’s a disconnect. AfterEllen is just one of the homes lesbian, bisexual and queer women will have lost in the last decade. It was a refuge, a community, a virtual church for so many. I’m not sure that some people outside of us can really ever understand that.”

AfterEllen is one of a number of LGBT-owned blogs that has closed down during the past few years.

Noted bloggers Pam Spaulding (formerly of Pam’s House Blend) and Jeremy Hooper (of Good As You) have shared their thoughts on LGBT issues on social media. Spaulding cited health and financial reasons for closing her popular site; Hooper, whose blog hasn’t been updated since February, adopted a baby with his husband and wanted to spend time with his family.

Bendix urged readers to support LGBT-owned media outlets and businesses, as well as LGBT artists.

“We need to support one another, because support from anywhere else is not guaranteed,” Bendix said. “Support queer women, women of color, trans women — give other deserving women your money, your eyeballs, your attention. Donate to their Kickstarters, visit their websites, advertise in their pages, buy their albums, go see their films in theaters, purchase their novels, frequent their businesses.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 18
Issue 7

XY Magazine returns after 8-year break

by Joe Siegel

XY Magazine, which is aimed at young gay men, has resumed publication after an eight-year hiatus.

The new XY #50 — at nearly 200 pages — went on sale the week of October 10 at Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Hudson News in New York City, and other bookstores nationwide. It is also available by mail from www.xymag.org.

The issue is called “Wonderland” and considers the future of America. “We were always known for criticism, but in this case we considered the future of America without mentioning anyone in or out of the LGBT movement,” editor Peter Ian Cummings said. “Instead, all the writers discussed what we lost and what we miss — the way that a massive increase in inequality has caused a decline in intimacy.”

However, XY #50 does not mention a single company, a single LGBT organization, a single famous name, or even the word Trump.  This was intentional, according to Cummings: “We wanted to talk about the myth of the pursuit of happiness instead.”

Cummings, the former international editor of The Advocate, created XY in 1996 in San Francisco. XY ran from 1996-2008 and was one of the world’s four biggest gay magazines. XY ran the largest social networking site for young gay men, XY.com.

XY closed during the financial crash of 2008. When XY’s staff and investors could no longer reach a financial agreement, the straight investors forced XY into liquidation and sold off the valuable XY.com domain name to a Chinese game developer.

The new XY team includes not only Cummings, but Denise Penn (former news editor of Lesbian News and Bi Magazine, member of the Executive Committee of the California Democratic Party); Tyrese Curtis (youth ambassador for SMYAL, who writes about coming out at 12); and Douglas Rushkoff, a producer of PBS “Frontline” (who writes about finding intimacy in an atomized age).

Although the magazine is headquartered in West Hollywood, Cummings, Curtis and Penn produced this issue in Washington, D.C., because of this issue’s national theme. The magazine features an interracial teenage couple (including Curtis) at the Martin Luther King and FDR monuments in Washington. Photographer Steven Underhill also contributed to the issue.

XY often criticized corporations for not advertising in the gay press, and criticized the LGBT movement for being too assimilationist and not supporting sexual liberation. That stance and its photography made XY very controversial, but also led to it having the highest newsstand sale of any LGBT magazine from 1997-2005.

In an unprecedented move, all 12 of the country’s longest-serving and most award-winning LGBT newspapers are each separately endorsing Democratic Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.

IN THE NEWS
Volume 18
Issue 7

Clinton backed by National Gay Media Association members

by Fred Kuhr

In an unprecedented move, all 12 of the country’s longest-serving LGBT newspapers are each separately endorsing Democratic Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.

The 12 are members of the National Gay Media Association, a trade association of the nation's major-market legacy LGBT newspapers. NGMA members have a combined circulation in print and online of more than one million readers per week.

The members of NGMA who are each endorsing Clinton in their own pages are: Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco), Washington Blade, Philadelphia Gay News, Dallas Voice, Windy City Times (Chicago), Between the Lines (Detroit), Bay Windows (Boston), Georgia Voice, SFGN (Ft. Lauderdale), Watermark (Orlando and Tampa Bay), Gay City News (New York), and The Pride L.A.

This is an unprecedented joint announcement from the newspapers, because several do not engage in political endorsements. Chicago’s Windy City Times — in its 31 years of publication — has endorsed just once before, and the Dallas Voice has never endorsed for any race in 32 years.

"This race for president is showing this country a clear choice of moving backward or moving forward on LGBTQ and other human rights," said NGMA spokesperson Tracy Baim, publisher of Windy City Times. "We know that the LGBTQ community is made up of diverse political voices. But the homophobia, transphobia, racism, anti-immigrant and sexist nature of Republican candidate Donald Trump means that we can't sit on the sidelines this election season."

In an op-ed for NGMA member paper Philadelphia Gay News, Hillary Clinton talked about how, as president, she would advance the historic pro-LGBT equality agenda she and her running mate Tim Kaine have embraced. She is the first major-party candidate for president to write an op-ed for an LGBT publication. “If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, I’ll protect the progress we’ve fought so hard to achieve — and I’ll keep fighting until every American can live free from discrimination and prejudice,” she wrote.

As PGN reported, the newspaper reached out to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to discuss LGBT issues in advance of the election. Clinton provided PGN “this exclusive op-ed detailing her LGBT-rights record and her goals for future LGBT-equality efforts.” Trump’s campaign did not respond to PGN, however, “The offer remains open for Trump.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 18
Issue 7

PRESSING QUESTIONS: Houston Rainbow Herald

Interview with Editor Johnny Trlica
by Joe Siegel

Location: Houston, Texas

Year founded: 2011

Staff size and breakdown: (writers, editors, designers, etc.) Johnny Trlica, editor; Alvin Linton, webmaster; Mark Anthony, contributing writer

Print run: Online only

Website: www.houstonrainbowherald.com

*****

PPQ: What feature or features of Houston Rainbow Herald (HRH) have been the most popular with readers? 

Editor Johnny Trlica: Stories of local interest mostly, such as bar closings/openings, lifestyle stories like bears and twinks, and sex advice and style columns.

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

Trlica: I did. I wanted it to reflect the locale, be identified as an LGBT website and wanted to "herald" our accomplishments as well as bring readers news topics of interest and importance. It's an old newspaper term as well.

PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome since its inception?

Trlica: Finding readership and time to engage sponsors. We are pretty much a two-man operation with both of us having full-time jobs other than HRH.

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

Trlica: The format has changed. It was originally modeled after Huffington Post but is now more of a blog format.

PPQ: What one change would you like to make?

Trlica: Add a photographer to cover local events

PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories you have covered? 

Trlica: We reported that a gay bar that was an institution had been sold. After verifying through several reliable sources, we ran the story that the 611 Pub had been sold. After some heated backlash from some in the community, we were proved to be accurate in our reporting.

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

Trlica: 5. We also run stories that are not of gay content but our readers will be interested in such as local restaurant openings and closings, politics, and movie/TV news.

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

Trlica: Yes. I pride myself on promoting our community and exposing those who would do us harm. In addition to HRH, I write a column for a print publication (Houston-based Montrose Star) that recaps recent big stories.

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

Trlica: Accused of "yellow journalism" for the story about the 611 Pub.

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

Trlica: Have a desire, do it for the love of it and don't expect to get rich.

PRESSING QUESTIONS
Volume 18
Issue 7