Interview with Publisher Tomy Acosta
by Joe Siegel
Geographic coverage area: The Gulf South with a focus on New Orleans and distribution from Houston to Pensacola, Fla., and north to Jackson, Miss.
Year founded: 1982, and the oldest surviving LGBTQ publication serving the Gulf South
Staff size and breakdown: 16 — publisher, editor in chief, senior editor, a salesperson, and a12 contributing writers
Key demographics: Readership 72 percent male, 28 percent female; median age 37 (21-34 year olds, 26 percent; 35-54 year olds, 37 percent); median household income $84,500 (HHI $50,000+, 62 percent; HHI $75,000+, 38% percent)
Web site: www.ambushmag.com
PPQ: What feature or features of Ambush have been the most popular with readers?
Publisher Tomy Acosta: Our Hot Happening section along with our official guides are the most popular. We produce the Official Gay Mardi Gras Guide, Official Gay Easter Parade Guide, Official Gay New Orleans Guide, Official Gay Halloween Guide, Official Pride Guide and the Official Gay Southern Decadence Guide.
PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Acosta: As the story goes, in 1982 Ambush founders Rip & Marsha Naquin Delain were sitting with friends trying to come up with a name when someone said "We should ambush them,” and the rest is history.
PPQ: What challenge has Ambush had to overcome since its inception?
Acosta: The biggest challenge is changing with the times and staying up to date with technology. In 1982, there were no websites or social media platforms so a lot has changed. It’s always a work in progress.
PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Ambush facing now?
Acosta: The biggest challenge is reaching young people where they are. With the increase in social media and apps, you now have several platforms that must be utilized to reach the younger generation. Also, the interest of the younger generation is different from older individuals, so it’s important to find a balance with the content covered by Ambush.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Acosta: We are always looking to expand our reach and audience. It’s something we are working on all the time, trying to get more distribution locations and readers. We have some amazing writers and contributors so we want as many people as possible to see and appreciate their work.
PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories Ambush has covered?
Acosta: There are so many stories that were big at the time from the AIDS crisis in the ’80s to the fight for marriage equality. Every story is a big news story when it affects your rights and your day-to-day life. At Ambush, we understand that although we have come a long way as a community, the fight continues.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 (exclusively straight to totally gay), how gay is your publication?
PPQ: Do you see yourselves as “activist journalists”? If so, in what way?
Acosta: Yes, we see ourselves as "activist journalists" in many ways. We have writers who take stands on many political issues and let their voices be heard. We are always trying in every way we can to help promote equality for all.
PPQ: What's the most surprising feedback you've received from a reader?
Acosta: I don't know that anything has been surprising, but we do get a lot of feedback from our readers. In the little over a year since I've owned Ambush, most of the feedback has been positive about the changes we've made to the paper and our desire to be inclusive of everyone in the LGBTQ community.
PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own publication?
Acosta: Know your community and get involved. One of the keys to the success of Ambush is how involved it is in the LGBTQ community in the Gulf South. Ambush has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities over the years. It’s a vital part of what we do.
(If your publication has never been featured in PRESSING QUESTIONS, and you'd like it to be, email editor Fred Kuhr at firstname.lastname@example.org)