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.”
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