Thursday, March 19, 2020

Publications deal with fallout from global pandemic

by Joe Siegel

LGBTQ media outlets across the country are adjusting to a new reality in a world gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For one, Iowa’s GoGuide, based in Iowa City, announced free advertising for all businesses in two counties through June.

GoGuide's Tim Nedoba
“The coronavirus has and will affect all area industries, and the people that work for them will need assistance,” publisher Tim Nedoba said. “The pain of this pandemic will be even higher in our local communities with an extended ‘spring break’ at the University of Iowa and other local schools and colleges. … Our local community may lose as many as 30,000 residents as they go home and span out across the country.”

The epidemic is hitting the San Francisco Bay Area particularly hard and the Bay Area Reporter is facing a very difficult economic climate as a result.

“Social events and performances have been canceled, resulting in a corresponding drop in advertising,” said publisher Michael Yamashita. “We can only wait to see what happens in the next few weeks. We've decreased distribution in areas with reduced foot traffic due to people working from home.”

Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal said it is his paper’s responsibility to educate readers about the epidemic.

“We in the LGBT community have had to deal with an epidemic before, without any support from government or society,” Segal said. “At that time, it was LGBT media that did the job of informing people and getting them to protect themselves. The difference now is that this health crisis is one that the entire nation is going through, and therefore people do not feel ashamed to talk about it. The best we can all do — and those of us in the news business know it's a priority — is to get and give proper information.”

Some have instructed their reporters and staff to work from home instead of in the office and have altered the way they conduct business.

Diane Anderson-Minshall
of Pride Media
We've moved most of our meetings with advertisers and clients to virtual ones, which is working out really well actually since most of our advertisers were moving in that direction as well,” said Diane Anderson-Minshall, CEO and editorial director of Pride Media.

The travel industry is also going to be greatly impacted and Anderson-Minshall has some plans on how to help them out.

“If you look back at data, the LGBTQ consumer market was what actually uplifted the travel industry after 9/11,” Anderson-Minshall said. “We were the only consumers who were still traveling, so I think the travel industry will be looking to us even more now. We plan even more focus on travel, but will include more staycations in your own city, domestic travel, and ‘safe’ travel destinations, and tips on how to travel safely. We're getting a lot of interest in this direction.”

The Washington Blade and its sister paper, the Los Angeles Blade, will be publishing their print editions as usual, according to editor Kevin Naff.

“Local arts and entertainment advertising is obviously being impacted, but we look forward to the reopening of venues and events later in the spring,” Naff said. “In the meantime, the LGBTQ media know how to cover a pandemic better than anyone and we're working hard to fulfill our mission to readers and advertisers.”

Peter Frycki, publisher of Trenton-based Out in Jersey magazine said its coverage is shifting since many venues, business locations and LGBTQ centers closed.

“Many online ads and event listings are being cancelled out of public health concerns, and that is to be expected,” said Frycki. "It is too early to tell if there will be longterm financial impacts for us. In the last several days, many of our advertisers have cancelled or ‘paused’ ads for events listed online.”

Frycki said Out in Jersey still plans on as heavy distribution of the print publication as possible, but acknowledges there may be some difficulties.

“Some locations may be very slow and/or may even be closed when the April issue goes out,” Frycki said. “We can only hope that government officials and the general public act in a way that protects us so that there is an end to the pandemic as quickly as possible.”

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