by Chuck Colbert
CHICAGO — The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association added two more members of LGBT media to its Hall of Fame roster.
|Tracy Baim (left) and Lisa Keen (photo: Hal Baim)
They are Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of Chicago’s Windy City Times, and veteran journalist Lisa Keen, founder and chief correspondent of Keen News Service, which specializes in national legal and political news and provides such content to LGBT news organizations from coast to coast.
Another 2014 inductee was Donna Cartwright, a veteran copy editor at the New York Times, also a longtime transgender LGBT and labor activist.
“This year’s selections are deeply rewarding,” said Bob Witeck, chair of the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame Task Force. “All three share lifelong habits reporting our stories through solid journalism while inspiring us with their dedication to truth.”
NLGJA made its formal Hall of Fame inductions on Saturday evening, August 23, during the closing awards reception at the organization’s national convention in Chicago.
Baim and Keen were on hand to receive their respective honors.
An author, filmmaker, and historian, in addition to publisher and editor, Baim began her career at Gay Life newspaper in 1984, a month after graduating from Drake University. She co-founded Windy City Times in 1985 and Outlines newspaper in 1987. Lambda Publications, the parent company of Outlines, bought Windy City Times in 2000 and merged it with Outlines, and the parent company became Windy City Media Group.
NJGLA selected Tracy Baim in part for her lifelong passion for journalism and love of history, as well as her fierce human-rights advocacy. To that end, Baim has championed equality in battling sexism, racism and homophobia. For example, she received NLGJA’s 2014 first-place award for excellence in opinion/editorial for “The content of our character: Trayvon and us.”
“NLGJA, while it did not originally embrace LGBT media as part of its mission, has really changed that in the past decade,” said Baim. “They have honored several LGBT media people, including Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News last year. So it was a great honor to be inducted into the NLGJA Hall of Fame this year alongside Lisa Keen and Donna Cartwright.
“What is even more wonderful is how many great journalists are in the Hall of Fame, including Jill Johnston, Randy Wicker, Michelangelo Signorile, Deb Price, Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen, Marlon Riggs and more. This makes me feel overwhelmed to be in the company of these giants of mainstream and LGBT media history.”
In brief remarks at the awards reception, Baim also voiced praise for the important role NLGJA has played in the LGBT rights struggle.
“The national LGBT community does not understand that NLGJA is probably one of the most important organizations that has effected change for our movement behind the scenes,” she said. “There are many other organizations that are political and activist, but NLGJA, behind the scenes, has influenced change immensely.”
For more than 35 years, Lisa Keen has been reporting news for LGBT audiences and is frequently considered the dean of gay political reporting in America. During her career, she served for 18 years as editor of one of the nation’s most respected gay publications, The Washington Blade. Keen was one of the first two reporters for a gay newspaper to be credentialed to cover the White House and Congress. She has covered U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1985 and is one of the only reporters to carefully analyze gay voting trends in presidential elections.
In addition, Keen won the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for her coverage of an anti-gay initiative in Colorado and the subsequent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans, as well as a Society of Professional Journalists award for her series of interviews — from diagnosis to death — with one of the first gay men to develop AIDS in the early 1980s. Keen is also co-author of :Strangers to the Law: Gay People on Trial,” published in 2000.
NLGJA selected Lisa Keen in part for her tireless commitment to reporting stories that matter most to LGBT people.
“I really appreciated the acknowledgement,” said Keen. “And it prompted me to think back on my own career and realize what a wild ride it has been — what wonderful opportunities, surreal moments, and even scary experiences I had. I think so many of us are so busy rushing from one breaking news story to the next one, we don’t take much time to look back. And it’s just a really good feeling to have others in the business stop you and say, ‘Hey, you — you did good.’”
In brief remarks at the awards reception, Keen spoke of the role LGBT media has played over the decades. Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, she said, a gay newspaper, like the Washington Blade, “was critical to the community. It was a matter of life and death” during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“Things have changed,” she said. “Our mainstream daily newspapers cover gay stories even more than our gay community newspapers.”
Still, Keen said, “Gay newspapers are as vital to our community now as back then.”
“I am very proud to have been part of the gay media these past couple of decades or more,” she said in closing. “Wherever we end up in 10 years, I hope I am still at it and enjoying it as much as I do now.”
In 2005, NLGJA established the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame to recognize journalists for their commitment, courage, and dedication to LGBT issues in the media. Since then, NLGJA has honored a total of 25 journalists in the LGBT community.