Philly pub now the most award-winning LGBT newspaper

by Chuck Colbert

The leading LGBT publication in Pennsylvania has done it again, nailing down seven awards last month from the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Keystone Pro Chapter.  
The winners from Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) included Mark Segal for commentary, Angela Thomas for online breaking news (first and second place), Scott Drake for news photography, Jen Colletta for spot news and editorial, and Victoria Brownworth for enterprise reporting.
Founded 1976, by publisher Segal, PGN is among the nation’s oldest continuously published weeklies targeted to the LGBT community.
PGN’s recent honors, as editor Colletta noted, mean since the beginning of the year, PGN has won a total of 20 awards on both a state and national level.
PGN editor Jen Colletta

“Our staff is incredibly dedicated to creating and maintaining strong ties to the local community, which allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of all that’s going on in the Philly LGBT community,” she said. “We’ve work hard to diversify our coverage, making sure we run a good mix of hard news, feature, human interest and investigative pieces.”

To be honored by mainstream organizations, speaks to professionalism of LGBT media and its unique role on the media landscape, Colletta believes. “Being recognized by mainstream journalism organizations reinforces the notion that, while LGBT issues are being covered at a more frequent rate now than in the past by mainstream publications, LGBT outlets still best understand and can best report on our own communities,” she said. 
PGN’s awards, the breadth and depth of topics covered, demonstrate a variety of news and editorial lenses through which the venerable publication operates. For example, publisher Segal’s “Mark My Words” column won honors for perspectives ranging from reflections on his National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame induction last summer to gun control to calling on Pennsylvania’s state lawmakers to take more pro-active approaches to LGBT equality.
Colletta’s editorial award was for topics ranging from her own engagement to the role of social media in the equality movement to commentary on state politics. Her spot news recognition was for coverage of the filing of the first lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality.
The SPJ’s Keystone Pro Chapter honored Brownworth for a four-part series examining sex work among transwomen, where she spent months on the streets with local sex workers 
An award for news photography went to Drake for a shot of a local woman who camped out in a snowstorm to raise awareness about gun violence after her gay brother was murdered.
For her award, Thomas’ online breaking news pieces probed the shuttering of Giovanni’s Room, an iconic LGBT bookstore, and the passage of a city council bill that offers tax credits for companies providing domestic-partner benefits and trans-inclusive coverage, as well as other issues.
Altogether, PGN’s streak of nabbing honors for journalistic excellence means it is the nation’s most-award winning LGBT newspaper.
As part of its mission, PGN “focuses on and promotes businesses and populations within the LGBT community to engender mutual success.” Also, according the publication’s web site, “This includes publishing special issues to highlight areas such as marriage, pets and health, as well as tackling sensitive issues like LGBT suicide and homelessness.”
PGN is published every Friday with an average print run of 15,000 copies and a pass-along rate of more than 25,000. Distribution is to more than 500 locations, including news boxes, bookstores, stores, community centers, LGBT organizations and other outlets throughout Greater Philadelphia and beyond into parts of Delaware and New Jersey.

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