Thursday, May 14, 2020

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

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

BOSTON SPIRIT announced that ROB PHELPS is its new editor in chief, taking over from JIM LOPATA, who left to pursue other opportunities. The magazine also celebrated its 15th anniversary in its April 2020 issue.

Rob Phelps of Boston Spirit
GAYELLOW PAGES, based in New York City, has published its final print edition, citing “very low” demand, mostly a handful of libraries, that barely covers costs. A monthly update of the free online edition is still available at http://gayellowpages.com/online.htm

GEORGIA VOICE, based in Atlanta, celebrated its 10th anniversary in its March 27, 2020, issue.

GOLIATH ATLANTA entered its sixth year of publication with its Spring 2020 issue.

LAVENDER MAGAZINE, based in Minneapolis, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with its June 4, 2020, issue. Also, VP for Sales & Marketing BARRY LEAVITT celebrated his 21st anniversary with the magazine on April 12, 2020.

Cathy Renna
OUTFRONT, based in Denver, Colo., entered its 44th year of publication with its April 1, 2020, issue.

PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS was awarded a Pennsylvania historical marker on March 17 by the PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL & MUSEUM COMMISSION. The marker, a blue and gold embossed sign, commemorates the newspaper’s role in the city’s LGBTQ history.

CATHY RENNA, longtime LGBTQ activist and communications consultant, has been named Interim Communications Director for the NATIONAL LGBTQ TASK FORCE, based in Washington, D.C. Currently, she is Principal of TARGET CUE, an LGBTQ-focused communications firm.

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES
Volume 22
Issue 2

Pride cancellations have massive impact on bottom lines

by Joe Siegel

For many media outlets, the postponements of this year’s LGBTQ Pride celebrations have wreaked havoc on advertising revenues and forced a shift in coverage.

On April 20, the New York City Pride March was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The state of New York leads the nation in COVID-19 cases and deaths. And New York City is the epicenter.

New York City’s Gay City News is still planning to cover Pride in its June 18 issue. Editor and associate publisher Paul Schindler said several virtual events are being planned in addition to the Global Pride virtual event being organized by InterPride and the European Pride Organizers Association on June 27.

“I am thinking about Pride this year in terms of the newspaper's editorial mission,” Schindler said. “We will focus on the challenges and hurt facing most if not all of the city's LGBTQ non-profits as well as the clients they serve, especially from vulnerable and marginalized communities. In that light, we are working with several groups right now — the community centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island — and, hopefully, in the days ahead, with most major groups to try to crowdsource as full a list of community members lost to the pandemic as we can.”  

Schindler hopes advertisers will follow suit. “There may well be advertisers who in past years have shown their support for the community by sponsoring the Pride events around town, and we hope they will see our Pride issue as a way of continuing that tradition of support,” Schindler added.

New Jersey’s annual Pride celebrations are being delayed to the fall, which has necessitated a change in coverage.

“Our editors are discussing and planning for our annual June/July LGBTQ Pride issue now,” said Peter Frycki, publisher of Out in Jersey magazine, based in the state capital of Trenton. “It will be very different without the Asbury Park ‘Jersey Pride’ event. Usually, New Jersey has over a half-dozen Prides between June and September. But, thus far, there are no other New Jersey Prides planned until August. So, the August/September issue and the October/November issue will be more about LGBTQ Pride this year.”

Chicago’s Pride celebration was also cancelled. The parade, which draws a million people and is one of the largest in the nation, was scheduled for June 28, but now coordinator Tim Frye is hoping to hold it in late summer or early fall.

"We certainly expect a continued negative impact on advertising as a result of COVID-19, now through at least June,” said Andrew Davis, publisher of Chicago’s Windy City Times. “That includes anything Pride related. We will do our best to continue to cover the Chicago LGBTQ community with the resources we have, but the economic devastation of losing 80 percent to 90 percent of revenue is certainly having an impact. We are trying for loans and grants to help, but nothing can fully make up for the shortfall."

The organizers of Boston Pride announced the cancellation of their city’s Pride parade earlier this month: “The impact of COVID-19 continues to affect our lives in unprecedented ways. As a result of these challenging and uncertain times, and in consideration of the health and safety of the community, Boston Pride has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Boston Pride Parade and Festival, and to postpone the celebration of Boston Pride’s 50th Anniversary to June 2021.”

“We will lose the advertising revenue from our annual A-Z Guide to New England Pride, plus the added revenue from our two biggest weekly issues of the year,” said Jeff Coakley, co-publisher of Boston-based Bay Windows. “And it's not just Boston Pride — it's all the other New England Prides like Providence (R.I.) and Northampton (Mass.). I'm not comfortable discussing specific numbers but the revenue losses will be significant.”

In fact, a result of Rhode Island’s Pride festival and other major events being cancelled, the state’s LGBTQ monthly Options announced it is suspending its print publication.

“Options was already financially vulnerable, and with event cancellations and marketing budgets being cut due to the COVID-19 crisis, it has become increasingly challenging to secure advertisements,” read the April 27 announcement.

“PrideFest being cancelled was a factor because advertising in our June issue is ordinarily very strong,” said Options editor in chief Jen Stevens.

The news wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. “Options aims to return with a print edition in the fall. In the meantime, we will seek new funding, online improvements, and board members to shore up one of this community's most long standing institutions.”

TOP STORY
Volume 22
Issue 2

California’s BAR, OutWord launch fundraising appeals

by Joe Siegel

Two California publications — Sacramento’s OutWord and San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter — are fighting to survive as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The OutWord Rainbow Fund is soliciting donations from readers in amounts as low as $10 to as much as $250 and above.

Fred Palmer, CEO of OutWord Media Marketing and Events, noted the cancellation of several Pride festivals had a detrimental impact on the publication’s finances.

“OutWord [still plans] to have a Pride Month issue to celebrate all that we are proud of and hope to have the support of our corporate and small business partners,” Palmer noted. “We have some fun and unique ideas planned to make this happen. Our Pride issue like most LGBTQ publications books a significant amount of revenue for the year. In the last month, like most free press, we have lost all of our advertisers related to bars, restaurants, day spas, theater, and car dealerships.”

The magazine’s editors made this plea to their readers on the Rainbow Fund website: “We have never asked for help before, however, in order to keep publishing online and to keep paying our staff of three and a few of our writers, we have established this site for our readers or local businesses should they wish to support us.”

The severe economic turmoil caused by people having to self-quarantine has put LGBTQ publications in a precarious position. “In 25 years of business, we have never had to do any kind of a fund,” Palmer said. “As a matter of fact, we do a significant amount of fundraising for local non-profits in the community.”

Palmer said the OutWord Rainbow Fund is “off to a great start and [we] hope the fund will help give us a bridge we will need to get through the fall and perhaps further if needed.”

Bay Area Reporter has also suffered as a result of cancelled events and business closures. “To this end, I have had to make difficult, heart-breaking decisions to lay off staff and decrease costs in response to a sudden drop in advertising and a rapidly changing situation,” publisher Michael Yamashita explained in a letter to readers and advertisers.

“The cancellation of San Francisco's Pride Parade is particularly painful for us and every other business that caters to the LGBTQ community,” Yamashita added. “We'll still publish a Pride issue because we're lucky to have some clients who want to continue advertising to support us.”

BAR has launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which Yamashita called, “a sort of necessary and sort of desperate move.” Yamashita said the paper has raised most of its $30,000 goal as of April 28.  

Yamashita is also applying for local and federal loan and grant programs. The paper hopes to get advertising from city agencies as well.

“Any amount we are able to raise will never replace the lost advertising to keep the paper afloat,” Yamashita said. “This will help get us through the summer if I receive any of the loans or grants that I've applied for. There is hope for a turnaround if the economy is reopened in June. Many of our advertisers gave us their commitment to return. We've rearranged our operations to make it through this period so rehiring employees would depend on how many advertisers return and at what level.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 22
Issue 2

Windy City Times joins other Chicago media for fundraiser

by Fred Kuhr

Rather than go it alone — and facing drops of revenue as high as 85 percent — Chicago’s venerable Windy City Times is taking part in a joint fundraising effort with over 40 other alternative and ethnic media outlets based in the city and its suburbs. The month-long effort is being hailed as “unprecedented” by those involved.

The public can give at savechicagomedia.org through June 5, 2020. The website offers the option to donate one amount to be split among all of the outlets, or donors can select one or more outlets to give a specific amount to, such as Windy City Times. 

“We who are in independent media find ourselves in a unique and dangerous economic situation,” said Tracy Baim, publisher of the mainstream alternative weekly Chicago Reader. She’s also the founder — and former publisher and executive editor — of Windy City Times. “In response to COVID-19, national news outlets are tallying death tolls and assessing the situation globally. While that coverage is important, it leaves the average citizen confused and unsure of how to proceed within their community.”

The campaign is being coordinated by the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), a project launched in 2019 by the Chicago Reader. Sixty media companies and non-profit newsrooms belong to CIMA, which is coordinating grants, advertising, and editorial projects to assist in strengthening the local media landscape.

“Local media outlets deliver authentic, community-driven journalism, reporting on the stories that matter most for communities largely affected by this, and future, health crises,” said Yazmin Dominguez, CIMA project coordinator. “Unfortunately, community media outlets are not getting the resources they need and are thus facing the real possibility of closure. This includes media serving African American, Latinx, Asian American, immigrant, LGBTQ, and other Chicago communities.”

A one-minute animated video was produced by artist Emma Biancak and narrated by multiple Chicagoans, in both English and Spanish. More translations by media outlets may become available this month. The campaign hashtag is #SaveChicagoMedia. The videos are available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3ZNZ5FHPZw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc_WNf6EFq8

IN THE NEWS
Volume 22
Issue 2

Newspapers finding ways to cover pandemic

by Fred Kuhr

Given that the coronavirus pandemic is an ever-present news story, but not one with an obvious LGBTQ angle, community newspapers are coming up with different ways of covering the virus.
The April 9 issue of San Francisco Bay Times ran a front-page headline “Remembering LGBTQ Lives Lost to COVID-19” along with a full page of photos highlighting the famous as well as those on the front lines of the pandemic.

They included Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, transgender advocate Lorena Borjas, New York Mt. Sinai Hospital nurse Kious Jordan Kelly, and Broward County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office Deputy Shannon Bennett.

Many newspapers and magazines have “scene” pages, full of pictures at bars and events around town. But with bars shuttered and events cancelled, Dallas Voice used its May 8 issue to highlight frontline workers on its scene pages with the headline, “Thanks to the first responders and front line/essential workers.”

What followed was photos of workers — including nurses, retail and grocery store clerks, flight attendants, pharmacists, delivery workers — mostly masks. Some of the masks were surgical masks, but others showed some fashion and flare.

In Atlanta, Georgia Voice’s entire April 10 issue was devoted to the pandemic under the banner “Community Strong: COVID-19 Impacts LGBTQ Atlanta.”

Articles examined the pandemic’s effects on the local healthcare industry, local small businesses, city workers, and coping with social isolation. There was even a good-news story about how the lockdown has boosted local electric bike sales at Atlanta’s ElectroBike at the Atlanta Bicycle Barn.

According to owner Eric Hunger, “The business has been growing every month over the years, and since the coronavirus hit, our business has gone up exponentially. People are staying at home and want to get out and exercise; it's a natural thing to do.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 22
Issue 2

For the community, survival is key

by Tim Boyd
(Tim Boyd is a co-founder and the publisher of Atlanta-based Georgia Voice. This editorial appeared in the newspaper’s April 10, 2020, issue, part of that edition’s “Community Strong” theme examining the impact of COVID-19. A version of it is reprinted here with permission.)

Survival. We are all consumed by it right now. Will I survive? Will my partner or spouse? Family and friends? The worry extends further out to the economy, our own businesses, our jobs. Will any of what we have known survive?

I have lived through many losses in my life. Anxiety and grief are not new to me. I lost my partner to AIDS in the ’90s. I lost my best friend, too, and many others. I have watched several siblings die. I lost a thriving business that I loved. Loss, it seems, has been a constant companion. Despite that, or maybe because of it, I remain cautiously optimistic about the deepening crisis the entire world now faces.

Tim Boyd
As a community, we have a long history of being strong and resilient. We adapt, we support each other and we do whatever it takes to get to the other side of anything thrown in our path. COVID-19 will be no exception. 

We may tragically lose loved ones and the way of life we knew before may be altered but we will not lose our strength or our hope — it’s just not in our nature. And it is not in our nature to stand by and watch as we lose vital community resources whether it be an HIV-based non-profit or our own media.

Newspapers, large and small, are struggling to stay afloat. Closed restaurants, nightclubs, salons, gyms, and countless other businesses mean lost advertising. Advertising revenue, especially for free papers, pays for everything — salaries, printing costs, delivery costs and on and on. Even papers with paying subscribers are feeling the pinch. Gannett, the parent company of USA Today and other large papers, has announced pay cuts and furloughs. Closer to home, Atlanta Magazine has laid off six staffers including its executive editor. LGBTQ publications across the country are struggling to stay open and serve their local communities. Georgia Voice is no exception.

We want you to know that we intend to get through this time and how we intend to do it. I am proud of the fact that in our 10 years we have never missed an issue or published late. That will continue to be the case. We have had to cut back our already small staff and we will have to reduce the number of pages we print, but you can count on still finding a copy even if you have to search a little harder for it. If you cannot find one, call us and we will let you know where to find our most recent issue. Themed issues like our Arts and Wedding issues will be postponed until the venues and other businesses that support them reopen. But we will continue to bring you coverage of the most important issues in our area. Future issues will carry info on the impact of social distancing and digital connection in our community.

You can always read a copy of the latest edition online. We are posting to our website and Facebook daily and our subscribers will continue to receive our weekly newsletter every Friday. The 2020 edition of “Destination Gay Atlanta” will be pushed back to Aug. 1 when we expect the city will be open again for business.

Some have described this pandemic as a “war.” During a major war, people have historically come together to help their neighbors, friends, and businesses. Community is placed before the individual because we are stronger together.
That’s where you come in.

We are creating a special section that will appear both in print an on our website. “Community Strong” will feature stories from readers like you. These stories can be anything from news about what’s happening in your own neighborhood to how you are coping with the isolation we all are experiencing. We need you to be a “community reporter,” to share with other readers the reality of your own life in the midst of this pandemic. Are you working from home? How is that going? Kids at home? Have you lost your job? Your business? Are you and your neighbors and friends banding together to help others? Working at a food pantry? Making masks? Watching news all day or shutting it down? Whatever you are doing, we ALL want to know.

I cannot stress enough how much we all need each other now. We need to hear from one another, help where we can, and offer both hope and concrete ideas on how to survive this. Your community needs you. Your media source needs you. The road to recovery will be long and full of challenges. Together, we will survive.

GUEST COMMENTARY
Volume 22
Issue 2