by Joe Siegel
Geographic coverage area: New Jersey with some distribution in eastern Pennsylvania and New York near the state borders
Year founded: 2002
Staff size and breakdown [writers, sales reps., etc.]: An editor, entertainment editor and editors for layout, cartoons and copy editing, about a dozen writers and two photographers “on staff” presently. Our “staff” is all unpaid at this time.
Physical dimensions of publication: 8.5” x 11” inches published six times a year.
Average page count: 40
Key demographics: 66 percent gay men, 22 percent lesbians, 13 percent bisexual, transgender and other; 72 percent of readers have college degrees and 33 percent earn over $100,000 annually.
Print run: 5,250-6,000
Press Pass Q: What part of Out in Jersey is the most popular?
Publisher Peter Frycki: Our “Spotted Out In Jersey” photo sections are the most popular. Our music reviews from Entertainment Editor Michael Cook and personal profiles are also very popular. Our “Casting Aspersions” column is written by founding editor Toby Grace and gets the most serious comment and discussion in each issue. But our newest feature, the pet adoption section, has been quite a hit with the readers.
PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome over the past few years?
Frycki: Growing the company while the great recession hit. Ninety-eight percent of our income is from advertising. The legacy advertisers and the amount they had to market with us was slashed by over 50 percent in 2009. Many of the smaller business owners did not survive the recession. Consequently, the magazine went from 64 to 48 and then to 32 pages in just one year. We have recently seen the marketing and advertising dollars start to grow again.
PPQ: What challenges are you facing right now?
Frycki: We are in a slow growth mode and continue to struggle with an all-volunteer staff that is very committed to keeping Out In Jersey in the community. Almost everyone has other income sources and other priorities but they give the time they can.
PPQ: How has your publication changed since it was first launched?
Frycki: We are still LGBT activists at heart. But after 12 years, we operate more like a media business and make decisions more like a business would. There is a higher level of professionalism and an incredible amount of knowledge that has been gained since we started in 2002. To put it another way, I personally have learned the hard way what not to do.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Frycki: I would like to hire the first marketing and advertising manager. The area of marketing has been neglected for far too long and is reflected in our slow growth and lack of paid staff after 12 years.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?
Frycki: I say 5.5, but when I spoke with Sam Martino, our editor, she says Out In Jersey is totally gay, and a 6.
PPQ: Do you see yourself as an “activist journalist”? If so, in what way?
Frycki: Yes, most definitely! I started this publication as an activist because I believed New Jersey needed a statewide publication of its own. I still believe that. We need local publications to tell our local LGBT stories. Out In Jersey covers organizations and the very special people in the community that would not get much attention otherwise. They are all doing incredible work in their own way and need as much coverage as is possible.
PPQ: What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from a reader?
Frycki: Last year we had a three-page feature written by Chris Azzopardi on singer Cyndi Lauper, but Out In Jersey had someone else on the cover. The Cyndi Lauper fans were livid! They could not believe that! After hearing from so many Cyndi Lauper fans, I had to agree that we blew it. They made an excellent case that Cyndi Lauper should have been on that cover. And she will be featured on the cover the next chance we get.
PPQ: What is the biggest story Out in Jersey has reported in the last few years?
Frycki: The ongoing coverage on how one person could stand in the way of equal marriage rights for the entire LGBT community. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was against marriage equality and vetoed the legislation. He, and he alone, was the reason lesbians and gays in New Jersey had to wait for another court decision to be legally wed in the state.
PPQ: What advice do you have for others working in LGBT media?
Frycki: Drop your ego and be kind and understanding of your staff and where they come from. Be a mentor and a friend always.