by Mark Segal
(Mark Segal is the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. This column originally appeared in PGN. It is reprinted here with permission.)
We are LGBT media. We were the lifeline during HIV/AIDS, and we will be there for our community now. Here’s how we at PGN are dealing with it.
We had a meeting with staff at PGN, and we have a plan which staff helped create, and I used to create company policy. Bottom line, the best thing we can do for our community and our own peace of mind is to use precaution, don’t overreact and continue life as best as possible. And being in open communication with others is key, along with having proper information from professional news organizations, not random websites, or people pushing any agenda other than public safety.
I am very proud of our profession. TV news is going on, as usual, getting information to the public; daily newspapers and wire services are doing their part. Rex Wockner, who many of us in LGBT media read, is continuing to get information about the virus to our community. We will do so proudly as well. Here’s an example of how we are doing that — by keeping in contact and letting all know what each is doing. Transparency is the best thing to do at this point.
Every single department at PGN is doing her/his/their part to get you the news you need as this health emergency continues. I am a PROUD publisher as I witness our staff assure that this paper gets to your hands or eyes.
We in the LGBT community have had to deal with an epidemic before without any support from the government or society. At that time, it was LGBT media that did the job of informing people and getting them to protect themselves. The difference now is that this health crisis is one that the entire nation is going through, and therefore people do not feel ashamed to talk about it. That is good since communication is the best we can all do to normalize a situation that will ultimately become worse before it gets better.
We are the adults in the room and need to tell our communities how this is affecting them and what they should responsibly do. We also must give the most current and accurate information that we know. Thus far, we know that those with compromised immune systems need to take extra precautions, including people with underlying health issues like heart conditions and high blood pressure and respiratory issues. Let’s also remember those with HIV/AIDS, and, of course, our seniors need us. The best we can all do — and those of us in the news business know it’s a priority — is to get and give proper information. And we do know the procedure, and we know who this hits.
Through a crisis, we get stronger. Now is a time to talk and bond with your friends, family and co-workers. It’s also a time to be responsible. We’ll all get through this and life will continue, but before that happens, we have a job to do: Keep our community informed.