by Lynne Brown
(Lynne Brown is the publisher of the Washington Blade. The following column ran in the newsletter for News is Out, a national collaborative of the leading local LGBTQ news publishers. Join the News Is Out newsletter at https://go.localmedia.org/NIO-DV. The following piece appears here with permission.)
2023 has dawned. With a quick look back, let me definitively say newspapers did not die. I field that specific question all the time. My response is steadfast. We are here, we are queer. I add to that, newspapers and niche market media are still alive and well. Jeff Bezos has not knocked on the door to invest, but we are here. We continue to do the work of queer content, deep dives and honest professional reporting, as best we can.
The Blade news group serves a need. The LMA News Is Out Collaborative serves the same need. Stories by, for, and about LGBTQ+ people. Accurate reporting, first person opinions, and original investigative pieces that are deeper and more detailed than network or mainstream media provide. Dare I say, even cares about? Who better to tell the stories and cover the news of our LGBTQ+ community than those who live and breathe it?
Now, with a quick look ahead, let me say, all leading economic indicators point to a solid 2023 for these newspapers. The News Is Out Collaborative consists of six publications run by dedicated professionals with decades of small business experience and LGBTQ market expertise, behind them. Smart folks. Frugal, innovative folks. Reliable and steady folks who bring you your news.
Queer press is supported by savvy advertisers and marketers. Our individual local markets contain loyal advertisers who have discovered the value of speaking directly to LGBTQ+ folks. Lawyers, doctors, restaurants, bakeries, car washes, all kinds of businesses that value their businesses enough to diversify their income streams and audiences.
The businesses you find advertising in the print version of the Blades or the online version, understand that gay business is good business. They need to reach into the neighborhoods in which they do business. They choose to add to their profitability by utilizing LGBTQ+ media. Simply put, advertising regularly and consistently in your local LGBTQ+ outlet, is a solid business decision. I know this because advertisers tell me. More importantly, I know this because they continue to advertise with us.
Our national brand advertising comes through agencies, like Rivendell Media. Rivendell is another example of great LGBTQ+ people connecting their professional consistent service, and queer media’s unique content to national brands that value the LGBTQ+ community. Everything from pet food to autos, vodka to pharmaceuticals. It’s a win-win for all involved, including the readers of our News Is Out publications. (Editor’s note: Rivendell Media also publishes Press Pass Q.)
Each of these publications is a free newspaper. While the cost of producing the online version is a fraction of the print edition, all of us continue to print. That decision is about the reader.
Blade distribution points — the street boxes or the businesses that volunteer to be drop off sites for the weekly print version — do several things. First, the weekly delivery of fresh Blades drives foot traffic to that business. Touching a newspaper as you read it is an experience many still value — especially with a hot cuppa in the other hand or maybe your Friday night cocktail at a club or pub like Trade or Number 9!
Being a Blade distribution point reflects a vibrant business. And lastly, Blade street boxes are a defining feature of a cityscape that is safe, welcoming, walkable and urbane.
Both the printing and the distributing of the Blade is a 24/7/365 LGBTQ+ identity effort of devotion and love. No rainbow washing here. The businesses we do business with understand that.
Let me say again: It is all about the readers. Readers guide us. Readers feel invested in the Blade and her content. I manage the Blade subscriptions. I speak with readers frequently. The resources and requests made of the Blade remind and reinforce my commitment to persevering. Researchers want photos, and archival materials. Students want all sorts of research and help with their pursuit of LGBTQ topics. Our obituaries, our opinion pieces, our news stories, are sought by filmmakers, academics and historians.
The Blade still receives phone calls from people looking for community. They seek places to connect — bars, churches, sports groups. Many calls come in around Pride week. Where is the parade this year? It is true the resources of the web are better than ever, but the Blade still holds its own when it comes to community service and community building. I find people pleasantly shocked when a real voice answers the phone, “Washington Blade how may I help you?”