Interview with Founding Editor in Chief and Associate Publisher Paul Schindler
by Joe Siegel
Geographic coverage area: New York City, plus to a lesser degree Westchester County, Long Island, and Northeastern New Jersey.
Year founded: 2002, though the staff and contributors had previously published Lesbian and Gay New York beginning in 1994.
Staff size and breakdown (writers, editors, designers, etc.): The newspaper has an editor-in-chief and a designer (Michael Shirey) as well as a sales staff that serves our parent company (NYC Community Media/Community News Group, which publishes approximately 20 community newspapers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx). All of the writers work on a freelance basis, though the pool of “regular” contributors –– writing at least once a month –– numbers around 20. Many of those contributors have worked with Schindler for 15-20 years. One contributor is Associate Editor Duncan Osborne, who often steps in for Schindler when he is on vacation.
Physical dimensions of publication: 12.5” x 9.5”
Average page count: 48 pages
Key demographics: Prime readership is 30-55 years old, with higher than average household income and education. Readers are also more likely to be in committed relationships and have children than the LGBT community on average, which means that readers are those with the strongest roots in New York’s LGBT community.
Print run: 35,000
Web site: gaycitynews.nyc
PPQ: What feature or features of Gay City News have been the most popular with readers?
|Paul Schindler of Gay City News
Founding Editor in Chief and Associate Publisher Paul Schindler: Our political reporting and our health reporting are often the most widely read. And the strength of our reporting in those areas is recognized by the mainstream media and mainstream political and government worlds. But we see a value for our readers in everything we cover. For example, we write about live opera in New York. Those stories may reach only a small percentage of our readership, but they are well read in the opera community and give the newspaper visibility outside the LGBT world, as does our dance coverage, for example.
PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Schindler: The newspaper’s three co-founders –– myself, John Sutter, who was then its owner, and Troy Masters, who was then our associate publisher –– came up with the name. The name spoke to our core mission: a gay publication for America’s leading Big City with a primary focus on news. A few weeks ago, comedian Kathy Griffin confirmed that logic in an interview with us, saying: “I have to be honest, looking at your newspaper’s website, I do admire the directness of the title of your publication. It just says it! This is what we are: we’re Gay City. We are News.”
PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome since its inception?
Schindler: Staying at the forefront of reporting on LGBT issues even as the mainstream media have gotten hip to the importance and appeal of the beat. When the world’s media were assembled in New York in June 2011 as marriage equality was enacted here, we had to stay on our toes to continue setting the standard for reporting. I believe we accomplished that.
PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Gay City News facing now?
Schindler: Understanding and being responsive to the many diverse needs, aspirations, and interests of the city’s vast and heterogeneous LGBT population –– young and old, black, white, Latino, and Asian, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, citizens and immigrants, well-off and struggling, married and single, Democratic and, well, those other categories.
PPQ: How has Gay City News changed since it was first launched?
Schindler: We spend a whole lot more time now thinking about the competing demands of online speed versus longer-form and thoroughly reported pieces. We have no formula in that regard. It changes from week to week and from story to story. So it is a constant challenge. We learn as we go along, but there are always new factors to think through.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Schindler: I’d love a bigger full-time staff and more hours in the day.
PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories Gay City News has covered?
Schindler: The 2011 marriage equality enactment here in New York State –– which was the culmination of years of work on the part of activists and probably hundreds of stories on our part –– is an easy “single topic” to identify, but there are always good stories to be found and told. Even from the simple standpoint of a political agenda, the community is nowhere close to being “done.” The nation has no basic civil rights protections for the LGBT community, New York State has no statutory protections for the transgender community (despite an executive directive from the governor last fall), and globally there is an untold amount of work to do.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?
Schindler: I’m a gay man. The vast majority of our readers are queer. And we have good name recognition in the wider (presumably primarily straight) world. I haven’t crunched those numbers to arrive at a number between 0 and 6.
PPQ: Do you see yourself as an ‘activist journalist’? If so, in what way?
Schindler: Yes, the goal of the newspaper is to advance the community’s interests and welfare, so I embrace the title of activist. That doesn’t mean that fairness, thoroughness, accuracy, and balance aren’t important. Nor does it mean that we won’t challenge the community’s “consensus” on an issue. I am a journalist and pursuing the truth as best I can see it is paramount. But I have no qualms about standing up for the community in any sort of reporting situation, and I don’t think that has to compromise the quality and insight of my work.
PPQ: What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from a reader?
Schindler: It’s not so much surprising, but I am constantly reminded of how much investment our readers and the community have in the newspaper. The expectation that we will serve the community and do so in the way the community expects are always driven home to me in how readers respond.
PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own GLBT publication?
Schindler: Know what it is you wish to accomplish. Understand your mission. And then stay true to that.
PRESSING QUESTIONS Volume 18 Issue 2