(Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Over the last few years, we have all read about the perils of print media, or “old media” as some like to call it, and I’ve done numerous columns on the subject. The bottom line for media outlets is that you need to report on events, issues and topics that you as a publication own, and have a professional staff that knows how to publish that information in a way the community can get its hands around it. Oh, one more important point: Don’t be afraid to be controversial or write something that someone or some organization or business might not like.
The web, which most traditional media see as the enemy, only has two factors that print does not. It can be an instantaneous forum, satisfying those who need instant gratification (but that at times can lead to misinformation or personal venom) and it is cheap to run. Those advantages are easily met by a print publication that has a professional staff that can take the time to get the story right, and also through its letters to the editor and op-ed pieces, which provide a forum for those who want to comment on the story. Here is where the difference should be seen: In print, we should not allow personal attacks but only those that add to the discussion of issues.
Our named opinion columns should be where we are somewhat controversial. Allow your columnist to give his or her opinions. Also allow those who disagree to do so in print in your publication. As a publication, you can meet any challenge, with the exception of being out there instantly. Then again, we in print will have to at some point make a change to the ’net. PGN already has a web presence at www.epgn.com, where you can read our digital version or go through PGN page by page. But soon more will be required; we know that, and so does the rest of traditional media. And we are all searching for that formula.
Those who have a good product and good business model will prosper. We here at PGN are proud to be the nation’s most-award-winning publication for the LGBT community. And we’re even more proud that you as a community feel as strongly as you do about us, as every area of PGN’s business is on the rise. If you look at what we wrote in our first edition, you’d see we haven’t changed that much. I’ll paraphrase: “We intend to be a forum for communication in this community. You won’t always agree with us, but we’ll give you the space to disagree with us when you feel compelled to. What we intend to do is earn your trust.”
From your support, we believe we’ve done just that.
That, we here at PGN believe, is the true meaning of success.