Wednesday, September 16, 2020

TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

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

BAY WINDOWS, based in Boston, entered its 38th year of publication with its July 30, 2020, issue.


THE CENTRAL VOICE, based in Middletown, Penn., received five awards as part of the 2020 PROFESSIONAL KEYSTONE MEDIA AWARD program sponsored by the PENNSYLVANIA NEWSMEDIA ASSOCIATION. The newspaper, the only LGBTQ bimonthly in the central part of the state, won one first-place and four second-place awards in its niche publications division. The first-place prize was in the category of diversity. The second-place awards were for news beat reporting, columns, lifestyle/entertainment beat and graphic/photo illustration.


Chris Johnson

CHRIS JOHNSON, White House reporter for the WASHINGTON BLADE, won the GLAAD MEDIA AWARD for Outstanding Newspaper Article. He won for “Military reports no discharges under trans ban, but advocates have doubts.” His competition included nominees from the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, LOS ANGELES TIMES and DALLAS MORNING NEWS. PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS founder and publisher MARK SEGAL and the LOS ANGELES BLADE’s KAREN OCAMB also won special recognition awards from GLAAD.


GOGUIDE, based in Iowa City, will begin its fifth year of publication with its September 2020 “Back to Campus” issue. This marks its first issue this year to appear in both print and digital formats. The issue also features two new columnists, former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party TROY PRICE and Des Moines area activist ERICA BARZ.


LGBT HISTORY MONTH, produced by THE EQUALITY FORUM, has unveiled its 2020 icons for this October. They include actor DIVINE, political activist DAVID MIXNER, Chicago Mayor LORI LIGHTFOOT and SNL cast member KATE MCKINNON. Free materials are available for media outlets to highlight all 31 icons, one for each day of the month, at LGBTHISTORYMONTH.COM.


METROSOURCE, based in Long Beach, Calif., celebrated its 30th anniversary in its August/September 2020 issue.

Karen Ocamb


NLGJA: THE ASSOCIATION OF LGBTQ JOURNALISTS has posted the agenda for its 30th annual convention — an online event for the first time this year — https://nlgja.pathable.co/agenda. The virtual event will be held October 23-25, 2020.


KAREN OCAMB, longtime LGBTQ journalist most recently with the LOS ANGELES BLADE, has decided to take a break from journalism to work on the YES ON PROP 21 campaign, the Rental Affordability Act initiative on the November ballot in California funded by the AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION and a coalition of economic justice and renters rights groups.


TRANSITIONS AND MILESTONES

Volume 22

Issue 6

Election coverage ramps up in final stretch

by Joe Siegel

LGBTQ publications have been providing comprehensive coverage of the presidential election, which has been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter (BAR), for one, provided online coverage of both the Democratic and Republican conventions. News Editor Cynthia Laird said each week’s issue included an advance piece, including some of the LGBTQ aspects of the events.


For the Democrats, BAR covered every night of the convention and got stories online shortly after the sessions ended.


“Reporter John Ferrannini talked to some delegates and included that in his overall coverage,” Laird said. “He also highlighted LGBTQ speakers, such as U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.”

For the GOP confab, however, BAR skipped the first two nights, Laird noted. “Even before the convention started, Richard Grenell,” an openly gay former diplomate and Trump cabinet member, “put out a misleading video and I determined it wasn't worth it to have to constantly fact-check the speakers. We did cover Grenell's convention speech that Wednesday, though it was misleading, fact-checked, and he didn't even mention his sexual orientation. Mr. Ferrannini did include his interviews with some gay GOP delegates and Log Cabin officials in that article.”


BAR then covered Trump's “misleading” speech and included fact checks, Laird said, noting the newspaper will cover the presidential and vice presidential debates.

“In terms of coverage on Election Night, we will probably post something online and have something in that week's paper, though I doubt we will know results and suspect it will be a drawn out contest,” said Laird.


Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) also provided features on the Democratic and Republican conventions.


“For the DNC we focused on the LGBTQ Caucus and the keynote speech as our local state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was one of the speakers at both,” said Interim Editor Jason Villemez. “We also focused on Tammy Baldwin, Pete Buttigieg, (transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates) Danica Roem and the two nominees.”


For the RNC, PGN focused mostly on President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — due to his anti-LGBTQ actions at the State Department — and Richard Grenell, Villemez said. “I also wrote editorials on the DNC and the RNC, and (Publisher) Mark (Segal) wrote his Mark My Words columns on the conventions as well.”


PGN plans to cover the election as in past years, with a focus on LGBTQ issues and local/regional candidates, as well as features on the presidential candidates and summaries of the debates. Villemez said the newspaper will continue to write about the election in editorials and Mark My Words columns.


“For both the DNC and the RNC, our coverage was limited to end-of-convention wrap-up stories focused on LGBTQ issues and people,” said Tammye Nash, managing editor of the Dallas Voice. “We used stories supplied to us by freelancer Lisa Keen. Lisa had ongoing coverage throughout both conventions that were available to us to use. But because of the pandemic we, like many other smaller media outlets, are doing our best to keep up the quality and the quantity of our content, only with fewer and fewer resources. That includes cutting down on the amount of freelance content we can pay for.”


For the November 3 general election, the Dallas Voice will be spreading out their coverage by running profiles on Texas LGBTQ candidates weekly leading up to Election Day and will be blogging about candidates and issues.


“On Election Day, we will be blogging results as they come in,” Nash said. “We have our list of local, state and federal level races that are important/high profile to the LGBTQ community, and we will do our best on Election Day and in the days after to report on those races in as much depth as possible, online and in print.”


The Washington Blade covered the LGBTQ highlights from the major speeches, including by Pete Buttigieg. “We also profiled and interviewed Jason Rae, the first openly gay secretary (of the DNC), and Joe Solmonese, who served as CEO of the convention,” said Editor Kevin Naff. “We surveyed openly LGBTQ delegates about their hopes for the party, beyond defeating Trump. There were a record 635 out LGBTQ delegates this year. We examined the platform, which was groundbreaking in its inclusion of non-binary people.” 


For the RNC, the Blade chronicled the party platform, which was unchanged from 2016, then abandoned entirely. “We covered Rick Grenell's speech, contrasting it with the previous two out gay RNC speakers, (former Arizona Congressman) Jim Kolbe and Peter Thiel,” the openly gay founder of PayPal.


Naff said in addition to regular news coverage and op-eds, the Blade will be hosting a series of weekly Facebook Live election events in October counting down to the big day.


“Our events group is finally starting to be able to host some in-person events again,” Naff added. “We have an upcoming event with U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) addressing a live crowd of LGBTQ voters.”


TOP STORY

Volume 22

Issue 6

Chicago’s venerable Windy City Times ends print edition after 35 years

by Fred Kuhr

Windy City Times, Chicago's only remaining LGBTQ newspaper, is moving to a digital-only format starting in October. The September 30, 2020, edition, which marks the paper's 35th anniversary, will be its last regular free-standing print issue.


The website windycitytimes.com will continue to be updated. “But the free-standing, regular biweekly print editions of WCT will end,” co-founder and longtime publisher Tracy Baim told readers and supporters in a message on Facebook.


Tracy Baim

“I co-founded Windy City Times in 1985, when I was just 22 years old. I was managing editor of GayLife newspaper at the time, and a bunch of us left to start WCT,” wrote Baim. “… While I am very sad, and have shed many tears over this decision, our small and mighty team at WCT decided the economics could not stand. I have mortgaged my house, have worked for low wages for decades, and asked others to sacrifice as well to keep the paper going. Friends and readers have donated, advertisers have stepped up, and our delivery drivers have done their work through hail, blizzards, scorching heat and more.”


Windy City Times was founded in September 1985 by Jeff McCourt, Bob Bearden, Drew Badanish and Baim, who was the managing editor. In 1987 she left to found Outlines newspaper. Over the years, Outlines also launched Nightlines, BLACKlines, En La Vida and other LGBTQ media. In 2000, Baim purchased Windy City Times back from McCourt and she became publisher.


Baim accepted the position of publisher of the Chicago Reader, that city’s mainstream weekly alternative newspaper, in 2018. “I am lucky I still get to do this work in community media today, as publisher of the Reader, and have been fortunate to keep WCT going in print for as long as we have. I don’t regret the financial sacrifice at all, because I got to do what I love this long. And the website will continue.”


Baim said WCT staff will mostly be on furlough after October. She also asked for donations to help retire WCT’s debt and pay staff through the end of the year. “We will look to re-tool and pivot to digital with additional revenue streams, and hopefully partner with a larger media company,” said Baim


Windy City Times, which is among only about two dozen weekly or biweekly LGBTQ newspapers left in the U.S., has tried to hold on to print during the decline in advertising and support of newspapers in recent years, but COVID-19 and its impact on the paper's core entertainment advertisers meant continuing a print paper was not tenable. The Windy City Times' digital footprint includes an average of 125,000 unique monthly visitors to its website, plus nearly 40,000 followers on social media.


As part of its 35th anniversary, the September 30 final print edition will be a special collector’s edition with a look back at 35 years, said Baim. Windy City Times will also be putting out a book of covers of WCT and its related LGBTQ newspapers. Windy City Times will be inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in October.


Donations are being accepted at http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/donate.php.


IN THE NEWS

Volume 22

Issue 6

LGBTQ publications help beat back ad tax in DC

by Fred Kuhr

Two Washington, D.C., publications targeting the LGBTQ community lobbied against the city’s proposed advertising tax, resulting in its city council reversing course.


The Washington Blade and Tagg Magazine, which focuses on lesbians of color, along with the Washington Informer, one of the city’s two African-American newspapers, came out swinging against a proposed three percent sales tax on advertising.


“As local business owners, we understand as well as anyone the grave impact coronavirus is having on commerce and tax revenues and the need for the city to find new sources of revenue," the Blade and Tagg said in a joint statement."

“But this misguided measure will only further damage the local economy by taxing businesses that are already strained,” the statement continued. “An additional three percent tax on our primary source of revenue will force some outlets to lay off additional staff and others to shutter entirely.”


The statement also noted how the tax would particularly hurt media outlets that target underrepresented communities. “Our businesses are already stressed to the limit. All of our arts and entertainment related advertising has disappeared overnight in the aftermath of coronavirus restrictions. Forcing us to pass along a three percent rate increase at this vulnerable time will lead to further advertising cancellations.”


An editorial in the Informer stated, “The term ‘Black Lives Matter’ applies to the Black Press that has never received its fair share of ad revenue comparable to what Black consumers spend. The last thing we need now is a tax that will diminish what few dollars we rely on to stay alive.”


The editorial also said the ad tax would have a detrimental impact on media organizations that are “holding on by a thread.”


D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson disagreed, telling the Blade, “I recognize that businesses fear that a sales tax will depress revenues. I think that effect is overstated. And I recall a couple of years ago health clubs were furious when we expanded the sales tax to include health club memberships. They made it clear in no uncertain terms that they were going to lose customers and close outlets in the District. And the exact opposite happened.”


The tax received initial approval from D.C. Council on July 7 and a final vote on the budget was scheduled for later that month.


On July 23, D.C. Council unanimously gave final approval to a $16.8 billion budget, but the proposed advertising tax was not included. Mendelson ended up abandoning the proposal “in the face of opposition from business groups and local media outlets that would be affected,” as reported by the Washington Post, which also opposed the measure.


IN THE NEWS
Volume 22

Issue 6

Connecticut finds its Voice with new publication

by Joe Siegel

Connecticut Voice has been serving the Constitution State’s LGBTQ community for over a year and is thriving despite the coronavirus pandemic.


“We have covered a full variety of topics from Health and Wellness, challenges of LGTBQ youth, the homelessness crisis, milestones in transitioning, history, dating, trends, religious and spiritual leaders devoted to openness and inclusion, families, political candidates in our state and so many more,” said Jim Tully, who is both owner and publisher. “We have fantastic articles on arts, food, interesting op-eds, celebrity and the importance pets play in all our lives. These just touch part of what we have done and what we will do in the future.”

Tully launched the publication late in 2018. The first edition was published in March 2019. 


“I have a fantastic and diversified board of advisors and after only two or three suggestions for a name, Connecticut Voice was offered and it was a no-brainer,” Tully said. “It has such a specific and general meaning all at the same time. And it is Connecticut's voice.” 


“I strongly believe that the little things matter,” Tully continued, “simple things like fact checking, proofing, layout specifics that many publications have cut to save money. Connecticut Voice writes everything you see in the magazine. Quality breeds quality. Our readers and advertising partners recognize our attention to detail.”


Readers have responded favorably.


“We have received great feedback with phrases like, "It's about time,” for Connecticut to have its own LGBTQ publication,” Tully said. “Many of our readers tell us that they have every issue of Connecticut Voice on the coffee table. What an incredible compliment! We are also open to all ideas and always respond. We do not pretend to have all the answers. But my editors and writers know one rule — everything starts with the story.”


Tully notes the pandemic “has affected our timetables somewhat and certainly accessibility for some story subjects. But we can still utilize the technology at hand like Zoom or other methods for our stories although we strongly prefer in-person.” 


Tully is proud of the publication’s multi-platform approach with its dedication to new content weekly on their social platforms as well as the television show Connecticut Voice Out Loud that now airs on WTNH in New Haven.


IN THE NEWS
Volume 22

Issue 6

Commentary: Words matter at “family-run” newspaper

by Mark Segal
(Mark Segal is the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. This column originally appeared in PGN. It is reprinted here with permission.)

Words are important, and over time they take on a meaning of their own. Take, for example, “One man, one woman,” or “religious freedom,” or “family-friendly.” How do those words make you feel? Do they put a knot in your stomach, or simply make you feel not welcomed or excluded?

Mark Segal (right) with husband Jason

That last one, “family-friendly,” often makes me wonder, does it mean that a family must be one man and one woman? That term to me always seemed to come with the subtext: LGBT people need not apply.

Maybe I’m too sensitive? What business is not family-friendly? Who doesn’t like families? We all come from families, and every family is different.


Those coded terms harken back to a time when we weren’t allowed by law to have a spouse, children, or be a legal family. We were not deemed family-friendly. LGBT did not equal family in the eyes of those in power.


There’s also another way to look at terms like that, and how our community has been excluded. Consider the phrase “family-run business.” That now has new meaning for many of us in business today, especially during this pandemic.


If you run a business and your spouse is helping you, that makes it a family-run business. When marriage was still illegal, that term, like the others, ostracized our community. We weren’t allowed to have families recognized by the law, and therefore we weren’t allowed to have family-run businesses.


Years ago, when Philadelphia Gay News joined the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association, I was told at my first meeting that Pennsylvania was proud to have the largest number of family-run newspapers in America. I somehow felt left out. But, a couple decades later…


During this time of lockdown, my husband Jason has been helping me run this newspaper. So I guess, after all these years, I can finally say that yes, PGN is also a family-run newspaper as well!


GUEST COMMENTARY

Volume 22

Issue 6