Interview with Co-Founder and Editor in Chief Louis Weisberg
by Joe Siegel
Geographic coverage area: Milwaukee metro area, southeastern Wisconsin, and downtown Madison
Year founded: 2009
Staff size and breakdown: CEO; publisher; four editors, three of whom also serve as staff writers; two part-time designers; business manager; circulation manager; four sales reps; nine part-time delivery personnel; seven regular contributors.
Physical dimensions of publication: 9.5″ x 10.7”
Average page count: 40
Key demographics: political progressives; environmentalists; LGBT; social justice and immigration activists; supporters of racial and gender equality; supporters of pay equity and reproductive freedom; animal rights activists; according to surveys, readers skew older, wealthier and significantly better educated than the population here as a whole; readership is 58 percent male
Print run: 30,000
Web site: wisconsingazette.com
PPQ: What feature or features of The Wisconsin Gazette have been the most popular with readers?
Co-Founder and Editor in Chief Louis Weisberg: We’re best known for our local political coverage and commentary. We also have a popular pet section, and our coverage of the local music scene is appreciated.
PPQ: Who came up with the name and what is the inspiration for it?
Weisberg: Honestly, I can’t remember. We like “Gazette” because it suggests a publication that adheres to old-school professional journalistic values.
PPQ: What challenge has your publication had to overcome since its inception?
PPQ: What challenge or challenges is The Wisconsin Gazette facing now?
Weisberg: Monetizing our robust social media presence and coming up with new channels to connect our advertisers with our readers.
PPQ: How has The Wisconsin Gazette changed since it was first launched?
Weisberg: We’ve changed dramatically. We began in 2009 as an LGBT paper with a print run of 10,000. Since then we’ve expanded our coverage and distribution.
PPQ: What one change would you like to make?
Weisberg: We’d like to go glossy and develop a robust subscription base.
PPQ: What has been the biggest news story or stories The Wisconsin Gazette has covered?
Weisberg: The achievement of marriage equality. The massive demonstrations in Madison against Act 10 [the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which led to massive labor protests]. Hate crimes. Police shootings and subsequent riots. The continual elimination of environmental protections. Creeping crony capitalism and corruption in state government.
PPQ: On the Kinsey Scale of 0-6 [exclusively straight to totally gay], how gay is your publication?
PPQ: Do you see yourself as an “activist journalist”?
Weisberg: Absolutely. Our mission is to promote progressive values. You can see that in the types of stories that we cover and the ways in which we cover them.
PPQ: What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from a reader?
Weisberg: A reader wrote me to say that he’d read the book “Dark Money,” which was mentioned in an editorial, and it opened his eyes to the transfer of wealth that’s occurred in the U.S. over the past four decades — and how that’s been achieved through a carefully strategized and effective program of propaganda.
PPQ: What advice would you give to anyone who may want to launch their own GLBT publication?
Weisberg: Don’t do it unless you have enough money or backing to sustain it and enough fire in your belly to work insanely hard for no money, but rather for the satisfaction of possibly helping to move our society and our culture forward.