Interview with Co-Founder/Owner and Managing Partner Chris Cash
by Joe Siegel
Geographic coverage area: Atlanta and other major Georgia cities
Year founded: 2010
Staff size and breakdown (writers, editors, designers, etc.): Editorial staff includes Editor Darian Aaron, Deputy Editor Patrick Saunders, Art Director Rob Boeger, and dozens of freelance writers and columnists. Business staff includes Publisher Tim Boyd, Managing Partner Chris Cash, and Sales Executives Anne Clark and Dixon Taylor.
Physical dimensions of publication: 10” x 10.5”
Average page count: 36
Key demographics: 57% male, 40% female, 3% other. 76% are college grads, 32% are post-grads. 50% have an income of $75,000-plus. 61% own their home. 55% make annual donations to LGBT organizations.
Print run: 8,000. 10,000 for special issues such as Pride, Black Gay Pride and Best of Atlanta.
Web site: http://www.thegavoice.com
PPQ: What feature or features of Georgia Voice have been the most popular with readers?
Managing Partner Chris Cash: Local news and politics, by far. Our readers look to us as the most trusted source of news and events in their local community.
PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Cash: The founders held a community meeting in December 2009 and offered three names from which to choose. The overwhelming choice was Georgia Voice. Southern Voice (owned then by Window Media) had closed its doors in late 2009, leaving Atlanta without an LGBT newspaper for the first time in more than 20 years. Along with myself, Laura Douglas-Brown, Editor of Southern Voice, and Tim Boyd, former sales executive with Southern Voice, joined forces to launch a newspaper to fill the void and to create a media company to serve all of LGBT Georgia.
PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome since its inception?
Cash: Money. The lack of it. Free publications depend on advertising to pay the bills. Print advertising, especially local, has fallen off dramatically in the past 10 years or so. Web advertising brings in a small percentage of our revenue. National print ads have become of utmost importance to local gay pubs. Fortunately, our annual LGBT travel guide, “Destination: Gay Atlanta,” has become very popular and brings in significant revenue for us. We also publish the guide to Out on Film, Atlanta’s annual LGBT film festival, which also boosts our revenue.
PPQ: What challenge or challenges is Georgia Voice facing now?
Cash: The same one since our inception. Limited revenue means limited staff, limited press run, limited marketing. We do a fantastic job of covering our community with the resources we have, however, and are by no means in financial trouble. It is just frustrating that we cannot do more. We always want to do more and do it better.
PPQ: How has Georgia Voice changed since it was first launched?
Cash: We redesigned our logo, masthead, cover and inside pages a few years ago. Our website has been updated several times, and the number of visitors there has increased exponentially since we launched in 2010. The editorial staff posts numerous daily updates there as well as on our Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube. We now have almost 13,000 Facebook followers, and when a big story breaks, it will reach tens of thousands and inspire hundreds of comments and shares. Social media is a priority for us, and we constantly look at ways we can grow it.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Cash: We would love to have a dedicated staff member for social media and marketing. That is number one on our wish list as it would also free the editorial staff to cover more local news.
PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories Georgia Voice has covered?
Cash: Orlando — the biggest story any LGBT publication has covered whether directly or indirectly. The hardest and saddest and most shocking story of our lives. I have been in LGBT publishing for almost 30 years, had numerous friends die from AIDS, witnessed numerous historical events culminating in the legalization of same-sex marriage, but Orlando — the significance of that massacre cannot be overstated. It will change us.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?
Cash: Is there a 7?
PPQ: Do you see yourself as an “activist journalist”? If so, in what way?
Cash: I see myself as a journalist. Period. Of course we are biased for our own community, but that does not mean we do not strive to uphold the standards and practices of fair reporting. Honestly, I do not know what the term “activist journalist” intends to describe. We are activists because of our involvement in the community. We are journalists because we publish a newspaper. We do our best to not get involved in the politics and disagreements within our own community. We do not choose “sides” in any of these debates or give more coverage to one side or the other.
PPQ: What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from a reader?
Cash: That we are homophobic because we do not add “Q” or “I” to LGBT. Obviously, [it was] someone who has never experienced actual homophobia and all its ugliness and wants to criticize those who fight against it every day.
PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own GLBT publication?
Cash: Make damn sure you love not only journalism, but know at least the basics of how to manage and grow a business. If you are clueless about business, partner with someone who does. Raise enough seed money to cover at least a year of expenses. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have for the least amount of pay you have ever received. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?