by Joe Siegel
Heading into 2024, editors and publishers remain optimistic about the future of LGBTQ media. After a challenging few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has begun to recover.
Michael Yamashita, publisher of San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter (BAR), insists, “Print is not dead yet and still pays the bills.”
“We conceive the newspaper and website as two separate entities,” said Yamashita. “The page count of the newspaper is determined by the number of ads and we prioritize content by keeping in mind what will be part of the archival record. All content is posted on the web site and is updated constantly as necessary. We have seen growth in online advertising since COVID in 2020. There are new opportunities for online advertising and more to come so I expect it to only grow in the future.”
“I belong to different local, state and national publishers groups and anecdotally I believe that the LGBTQ media industry is healthy by comparison because we produce unique content and serve a niche market,” Yamashita added. “Given the current climate of mis- and disinformation and attacks on LGBTQ people’s rights, LGBTQ media is crucial for our health and survival.”
Politics will be a major focus for LGBTQ media in the new year.
“Next year is a big election year and at Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), we plan to cover the wide-ranging implications of what this election means for us while also highlighting the grassroots efforts of our local community,” said Jeremy Rodriguez, editor of PGN.
“I think the LGBTQ media industry is continuing to flourish,” Rodriguez added. “Our community is incredibly resilient and we’re always willing to evolve with any shifting landscape to show that we belong here. That extends to our work as media professionals.”
“Our focus is on telling our stories and covering the news, but I am platform agnostic,” said Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade. “I don’t care whether our readers find us on a desktop at work, on a phone on the train, or in print at a coffee shop. Just that they read us and patronize our advertisers and sponsors.”
“If it is done right, [LGBTQ media is] very healthy,” said Patrick Farabaugh, publisher of Our Lives magazine in Madison, Wisc. “But I’m not sure there are many doing it right. Each media has to find its relevance, and media that doesn’t risks not lasting.”
Leo Cusimano, publisher of the Dallas Voice, believes the future of LGBTQ media is bright.
“For successful publishers, it is all about evolving, changing with the times, adapting to new technologies, staying ahead of the game,” Cusimano said. “With the announcement of Press Forward on September 9, it helps present a renaissance in local media with more than $500 million to be funneled into local media in the next five years. Collaborative journalism is the next big thing that will help local media be more sustainable.”
Press Forward is a national initiative, led by the Knight Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to strengthen communities and democracy by supporting local news and information with an infusion of more than a half-billion dollars over the next five years.
“As we witness our print revenues changing, we need to elevate our digital, build more reader revenue, add video, look at new technologies, and seek out new sources of revenue,” Cusimano explained. “That is key. Collaboration efforts are a new source of revenue.”
“I anticipate we will continue to post content online as stories happen,” said Cynthia Laird, news editor of the Bay Area Reporter. “It’s a great way to keep readers engaged and it no longer makes sense to hold stories for the print issue first — and hasn’t in a long time. Not to mention that the BAR has been smaller in size for many years now, actually, but that was of course exacerbated by COVID lockdowns.”