Interview with Publisher Patrick Farabaugh
by Joe Siegel
Geographic coverage area: Across Wisconsin with an editorial focus on Madison
Year founded: 2007
Staff size and breakdown: (writers, editors, designers, etc.): Four on staff, with a roster of over 75 contributors
Physical dimensions of publication: 8.375” wide by 10.875” tall
Average page count: 70
Key demographics: Median age is 42. Two-thirds identify as female, one-third as male. 55% are in relationships and living together. 61% earn $50,000 or more per year. Approximate annual household income of $75,000.
Print run: 8,500 (Total reach of 21,250)
PPQ: What feature or features of Our Lives have been the most popular with readers?
Publisher Patrick Farabaugh: Every January we publish our “Love List” to recognize and celebrate our readers’ relationships. Hundreds of relationships from every corner of the state submit their relationship along with a photo for inclusion. It always creates a really moving portrait of what LGBTQ love looks like across Wisconsin (http://ourlivesmadison.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/OL58.pdf).
PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Farabaugh: I came up with the name because it spoke to the vision I had for the kind of community I hoped we’d build together. I’m uninterested in being another LGBTQ media that pushes out celebrity interviews filled with canned talking points and catchphrases. To me, digging locally for the real human interest stories about the everyday people here are far more compelling. They help shine a light on what it looks like to navigate all aspects of LGBTQ life in this community. It’s important for us to prioritize journeys of personal growth in our profiles because the humanity and vulnerability that comes out in those narratives is something we can all relate and connect to.
PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome since its inception?
Farabaugh: There isn’t a mold for what we do. Over the years, it has felt like we’ve worked to define a new kind of community media. Although news is a facet of what we do, it’s never been our focus.
PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Our Lives facing now?
Farabaugh: The political climate is certainly challenging. Under Obama, many people became complacent with the progress we made during his administration. It’s been sobering to see those same people who checked out over those years check back in now that they’re waking up to how real and fragile our rights are.
PPQ: How has Our Lives changed since it was first launched?
Farabaugh: I don’t know if we’ve changed really, but we’ve certainly evolved. Every anniversary issue I go back and reread my Publisher’s Note from our first issue. It always strikes me how much focus and clarity we’ve had in our vision since the first day. As we’ve grown, we’ve just continued to find ways to expand that vision, but we’ve never really had to change it.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Farabaugh: Again, not a change really as much as it is an expansion. We’re beginning to explore producing our own events.
PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories Our Lives has covered?
Farabaugh: The one that’s gotten the most attention was when Wisconsin’s marriage ban was struck down. We anticipated it coming, and had a full roll out ready to drop as soon as the ruling was released.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?
Farabaugh: We’re definitely a 6. All of our content is both LGBTQ and local. We don’t use wire services at all and our editorial format helps foster more content than we could ever publish.
PPQ: Do you see yourself as an 'activist journalist'? If so, in what way?
Farabaugh: That seems to have become the label placed on any marginalized media right now by groups who want to brand them as an opposition voice. In ways, it is similar to saying we promote the “homosexual agenda.” At our core, we just want to help our community live happy, healthy lives. Part of doing that is by fostering a space where we can all learn and grow from each other. The same people who become resistant to that growth, or to change, are often the ones who move to using divisive language. We’re always mindful to be inclusive. Maybe “inclusion advocate” is a better term for our brand of journalism.
PPQ: What's the most surprising feedback you've received from a reader?
Farabaugh: We’ve often been met with surprise when new readers discover we’re a local publication because the quality of our product keeps pace with much larger national titles.
PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own LGBTQ publication?
Farabaugh: Question why you want to do it. What need is it filling? What value do you bring to the lives of your readers? If you can answer these things with measured confidence, then follow your heart and try. No matter the outcome, the personal growth you’ll experience will be invaluable.