On The Record

Is This The End of Gay Media?


The Rocky Mountain News is closed. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is now web only. The foreign bureaus of the Baltimore Sun and Boston Globe have closed. The publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune has filed for bankruptcy. The Christian Science Monitor folded its print edition. The Star-Ledger of Newark has cut its staff in half. Newhouse, Copley, and Media General have eliminated their Washington bureaus. The San Francisco Chronicle is on the brink of closing; if it does, the City By The Bay would be a city without a daily newspaper. One of the most popular Twitter feeds on the web goes by the name TheMediaIsDying. The economic crisis couldn’t have come at a worst time for the Fourth Estate, and while editorials across the country argue for the importance and value of news gathering media, the reality is print subscribers are down, ad revenue is down, and the graveyard of media outlets is filling up at an alarming rate.

And that’s just the scene within mainstream media. Last week, Genre magazine folded after more than a decade and a half. The New England Blade folded less than a month after the stock market crashed last October. The Advocate, arguably the most prominent gay publication on the planet, has cut its publication schedule in half, publishing monthly while its parent company Planet Out reduced staff by a third. Chicago’s Windy City Times closed its newsroom. Cleveland’s Gay People’s Chronicle was a weekly, but now publishes twice a month. L.A.’s two gay publications, Frontiers and IN merged, shedding more than half their staff over the past year. Gay media watchdogs say “publishers need to adjust strategy or face extinction.” But is that true? How close to Armageddon is gay media — and should we even care?


The crisis in gay media has been a long time coming. Properly speaking, the gay media industry is a loose amalgamation of independent papers, two major national print organizations (Regent Media and Window Media), Viacom’s Logo network, Sirius’ OutQ radio network, and independent gay websites like Queerty. Local radio shows and public cable shows like long-running In The Life round out the mix.

(Full disclosure: I’ve written for The Advocate, Out, Frontiers and Instinct Magazine and have worked for Logo’s now defunct Visible Vote and After Elton.)

Queerty spoke with over a dozen freelancers, editors and staffers– all anonymously– and asked them what they felt was contributing to the current crisis. What follows are the three major trends that have led to the current state of gay media.What follows is an amalgamation of their concerns.

Coverage is only skin deep.

While on the surface, gay media seems like a broad arena, in practice, it’s a cottage industry.

Until this month, The Advocate‘s news division sole staff member was Kerry Eleved. She is now the magazine’s Washington correspondent and the publication seeks a news editor to replace her. By comparison, The Washington Blade employs four full-time reporters, including editor Joshua Lynsen. If you include regional newspapers like the Philadelphia Gay News (two reporters) and Frontiers IN (one reporter), you still only get up to a couple dozen full-time reporters covering gay topics in the country.

Instead, gay publications rely on freelancers for their coverage. The reason is economic. Going rates for freelance writing in gay media start at twenty cents a word. Even freelancers are feeling the crunch.

On the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist’s Association news board, writers ask for suggestions on how to survive the economic crunch. One popular email is a “Open-Recommendation for a Journalist,” which describes why journalists make good hires in other industries.

With budgets down, major news sources like The Washington Blade and The Advocate have become reliant on wire news sources like the Associated Press for a significant chunk of their coverage (as have mainstream titles). “I used to write seven or eight pieces a month” says one prominent gay media freelancer, agreeing to speak anonymously, “Now, I’m lucky if I get one article. This month, it’s been nothing.”

The “Gay Media Bubble” kept publications from evolving with the times.

The paucity of hard news staffers isn’t accidental. The two largest media organizations, Regent and Window, have pursued similar strategies in the last decade, focusing on advertiser-friendly “lifestyle” topics like fashion and arts and entertainment to lure in subscribers.

It hasn’t been successful.

Regent’s Out Traveler folded in January and “transitioned” into an extension of Out. The Advocate spent heavily on major redesign last year, touting “heavier card stock” and a focus on lifestyle columns as one of the benefits of the new monthly edition of the magazine. Genre was by definition a lifestyle magazine.

The focus on lifestyle has its roots in the recent past. While mainstream media has been struggling since 2001, until the crisis, gay media was the one sector of the media industry experiencing rapid growth. As advertisers discovered the gay market, they flooded publications with lucrative ad revenue; after all, the gay market is commonly seen as affluent, brand loyal, and ready to unload their disposable income on news trends, not their kids.

Blindsided by the Internet.

What this meant in practice is that while MSM sources were adapting to the nascent Internet media world, many gay publications felt no need to adapt.

Flush with cash, gay media organizations asked themselves, “Why mess with a good system?” Unfortunately, much like the housing crisis, the gay media bubble was too good to last. While advertising dollars remained high, subscribers ran away in droves, lured by the immediacy and interactivity of the Internet and mainstream publications devoting more column inches to gay topics. Sites like this one offered up the news faster and allowed users to contribute to the discussion.

What resulted was a case of accidental obsolescence. It was only last year that The Advocate hired an online editor. Frontiers Magazine debuted a CD-ROM version of its revenue-enhancing “Gay Yellow Pages” in 2007, a strategy more suited to 1997.

Don’t blame the writers and editors. Blame management.


Even when a gay news organization does everything right, it still can’t catch a break.

Take The Washington Blade. The editors of the paper have managed the transition to the Internet fairly successfully, augmenting original coverage with blogs, wire news, and some interactivity, yet freelancers and staffers remain dubious about the paper’s future. The Blade‘s parent company Window Media was placed into federal receivership last August, yet CEO David Unger remains in charge.

Even more disturbing, Window Media has handled their crises in secret. The federal receivership was only discovered last month, by Gay City News and up until last Friday, there was no indication from the company that the publication was in trouble.

Window Media’s holdings include the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, Houston Voice, South Florida Blade, David Atlanta, The 411 Magazine, and the now defunct Genre. In September, the publications will be put up for sale.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of these rags, but any buyer will look at the fiasco at Genre and pause. As reported earlier, the last days of Genre were met with silence as subscribers failed to get issues of the magazine, writers wrote stories they were never paid for and management made a show of appointing Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff the new editor of the magazine a week before the magazine folded. (Queerty reached out to Unger for comment on this story; he has yet to respond to any of our requests.)

Unger is not alone, however. The recent history of The Advocate and related publications has been a game of musical chairs. In 2004, Planet Out, the holding company for The Advocate, Out, and a number of related gay companies went public, trading at $10 a share. By 2007, Planet Out was trading at $1.42. A quick infusion of cash from a hedge fund that included investors like Bill Gates pumped $150 million into its coffers, but later that year the company announced its intentions to sell The Advocate to Regent/here! for $6.5 million. Ultimately, here!, now known as Regent Releasing, bought the remains of Planet Out last year in what was described by some as “a fire sale.”

Regent’s CEO Paul Colichman has been dubbed by John Waters “The Gay Citizen Hearst,” and for good reason. Through Regent, Colichman and his straight business partner Stephen P. Jarchow own The Advocate, Out, here!, gay porn magazines Freshman, Unzipped, and Men, as well as websites BuyGay.com and GayWired.com. Yet when it comes to gay media, Colichman has signaled he has little to no interest in gay media as anything other than a marketing tool. Speaking about Here! Magazine, his first print venture, Colichman said:

“We did the magazine purely as a publicity piece for the network. We’re not in the magazine business. It’s a really saturated and very difficult market. I really have zero desire to be in the magazine business in any serious way. We simply use it as a marketing piece as we would a flier or a handout.”

Do we even need gay media?

All these problems were present before the financial crisis, but are now amplified by the disastrous economic landscape we find ourselves in today. With the earliest hope of recovery now pushed into mid-2010, depending on which blowhard politico you believe, gay publications have a long storm to weather before better days. But do we even need a gay media? With mainstream coverage of gay issues now a given and the proliferation of websites like Queerty, as well as a generational shift towards instant news via Twitter and Facebook, one could argue the change is simple evolution. Survival of the fittest, if you will.

But to think that way would be a mistake. Just like mainstream news, gay outlets provide the base of coverage. While everyone says the news is moving online, websites have more limited resources to do in-depth investigative pieces or stay on a beat. News, however much a public service it renders, is still, however, a business. The question facing the gay media industry is, can it meet the challenge of serving readers and not simply investors?

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  • JT

    I’m a subscriber to both The Advocate and Out, but I find the magazines fairly pointless as either news or lifestyle publications. I get much better and up-to-date GLBT news coverage from online sources, and quite often the stories published in those magazines are at least two weeks past. As far as lifestyle goes, the fashion and gadget guides are way beyond my means, I can’t afford travel to all the exotic places for which the articles are thinly-veiled advertisements, and the celebrity interviews are no longer out celebrities (have we really run out of them?) and are instead gay-friendly straights who haven’t even played a gay character. Aside from some occasional hot(-ish) photo shoots, I barely read either publication now and am letting my subscriptions expire.

  • Anthony in Nashville

    I think it would be a mistake to assume that gays and lesbians are so assimilated that we don’t need our own media.

    It is because of the continued presence and success of gay media that the mainstream was forced to acknowledge our existence. I’d hate to see gay media go the way of gay bookstores. Yes, Borders may have a gay section, but it’s only a limited number of titles and the staff is too ignorant to give you any recommendations. And when they decide gay books aren’t “hot” anymore, that will be the end of the availability of gay books on a local level.

    That said, these magazines need to do a better job reflecting the actual lives of LGBT people instead of these fantasies where everyone is white, beautiful, has tight bodies, and rich enough to make several international trips a year.

    My experience has been that LGBTs are less glamorous than we are portrayed in the media. There are definitely A-list gays, but I don’t think all gay media needs to be catered to them.

  • Qjersey

    Instinct is the only gay mag that is a fun read. Kinda like Queerty on paper, lol.

  • James

    For the record: VisibleVote didn’t go anywhere. After the election it got folded into 365gay.com. And yes, I write for 365gay and worked on Visiblevote.



  • Master Adrian

    NewsOnPaper, aka NOP, will slowly perish, were NewsOnScreen, aka NOS, will strive…… We’re in the 21st century, and with all the new technology, and the desire to fast reading by people, we will see a turnout of blogs and other screensources for an about news, regrettably so, as holding the news in one’s hand is if not only a great feeling, but at least exciting!

    People see news, they regard it as news, and start spreading it out, see twitter etc; and that’s what people want, seeing news delivered to their lap- and desk-tops, phones…. not waiting to finally being at home and then sitting down with the NOP, but getting it WERE they ARE, being able to get it were and there.

    And when they want to archive it, they print it out, it makes shifting irrelevancy out easy, but has the danger of forgetting about relevancy and connectivity too, one piece is related to the other……….

  • Jock

    Do we need a gay media? ABSOLUTELY!

    I make my living as a journalist. Writing isn’t just a job for me. It’s who I am! I wouldn’t want to DO anything else.

    Not all gay publications are struggling. Bay Windows, based in Boston, is thriving and I’m sure there are others doing just as well. Readers will respond to a quality publication with substantive news coverage.

    Support the Gay Media! Don’t leave coverage of the GLBT community to the straights.

  • Mark M

    We didn’t renew any of our mags, starting about 2 or 3 years ago.. they just didn’t appeal to or have relevance to our life anymore. I don’t wear much designer clothes, I don’t want to read about getting killer abs (which, lets face it, ain’t gunna happen on this old hedonist anyway). OUT came in a brown paper wrapper, which I found ironic and offensive, advocate endorsed that homophobe Obama (and had a series of cover featuring safe-semi-gays like Jodi Foster and that albino news guy), .. and besides for queer news I would rather read online.

  • ggreen

    Gays need a new smagazine like the Advocate. All the fluffy ones with shaved ladyboys modeling women’s underwear on their covers (like Genre above) can bite the dust and good riddance.

  • jason

    When every second page is of a buff half-naked man, of course it becomes stereotypical and boring. It also reeks of appearance fascism of the type you see in the straight men’s rags like Playboy where every second page is of a half-naked woman with huge breasts and long flowing hair. It’s stereotype central.

  • Mike

    This essay by Clay Shirky does an excellent job of summarizing how we got here:


  • Virginia Slim

    Excellent piece. The overriding issue for these gay media, and other media as well, was debt. Saddled with immense debt, no media could see its way through the tough times, which do arise and challenge any business over the years.

    CBS’ Brian Montopoli uncovered questions in the earliest days of the Window Media operation, when Montopoli was freelancing for Washington City Paper, link below.

    Without that debt, could the publications have survived? Financially, yes. Culturally (i.e. ability to adapt), nobody knows. A good argument can be made, however, that the Blade did have a younger second tier of employees who could have seen the Blade through its need to adapt. They were pushed out.


  • Brian Miller

    Perhaps if gay media stopped serving solely as free advertising for vapid celebrities and as official apologist mouthpieces for the Democratic Party (see the Advocate cover photo in this article for a good example of that), they’d be relevant again.

    People want to read good gay press.

    It’s simply that the gay press isn’t all that good.

  • jim

    I think people’s knee-jerk reaction is to blame the economy but in my opinion the demise of print media goes much deeper than that. I think it is the enormous impact that social media has had on us and the need to have info at our fingertips that is causing print to go the way of the dodo bird. These companies weren’t “blindsided” by the internet; hell, everyone saw it coming. It was their inability to adapt and more importantly their unwillingness to give up control of their content.

    I subscribe to the advocate and truly do like reading it. (I still think there is something romantic about reading a newspaper or magazine. I like the feel of the paper and smell of the ink, I know, I’m crazy)

    I think the Advocate was smart to go with a monthly lifestyle format instead of bi-weekly news magazine. There is no way they could keep up with the news. Where I think they are failing is with their website, blog, FB and Twitter accounts. Fact is the Advocate is a good brand. They could have easily capitalized on this entire social media world but haven’t figured out a way to monetize it so in my opinion they ignore it or put it on the backburner. Mistake.

    They (and here I mean gay mags in general not Advocate specifically) are letting others (ie, queerty) eat their lunch. The ones with a good brand and loyal following need to reinvent themselves by taking advantage of social media and capitalizing on their brand not necessarily their print products.

    That’s my opinion. (and so I don’t sound biased I want to let you know for the record I advertise with quite a few gay publications.)

  • Zocotroco

    I haven´t bought a gay magazine in years, they are a waste of money and they perpetuate the gay stereotype: all gay men are rich, famous, buff, hairless, we have lots of money to spend in designer´s clothes and ridiculously expensive gadgets and we go on vacation every year to luxurious and exotic places. If I want to see naked boys I´ll get a porno magazine, if I want news, I´ll get them online

  • blake

    This is a question that is facing all minority-targeted media. Media targeting Latinos, Asians, and African-Americans have all seen serious problems.

    Reliance on the Associated Press, for instance, as the only news source is a joke. In the last election, one of the AP’s editors was revealed to be a pal of John McCain’s. The AP was accused of bias against Democrats. Extrapolate from there. If all of the news sources are controlled by just a few companies what truth is published will be hard to judge.

    Queerty is a great site but it doesn’t have the reach for indepth reporting that traditional media has had. The ad revenue brought in by this site isn’t that great; and there are only a handful of employees. This is the same as what we see at other online properties.

  • Accuracy Lacking

    While I appreciate this sort of in depth coverage, this article suffers from many blatant inaccuracies that blunt its message. The timelines for Regent versus PlanetOut as to whom owned what and when are all over the place. The timelines for key events are also mingled and out of whack. That is a disservice to the conversation here and those errors should be corrected. As to the conversation, the simple fact is that the publishing culture itself is in many ways to blame for its own failure. It is hidebound and inbred. The years of service required to move up the ladder in the industry makes for a layer at the top that is blind to the opportunities available in new media and the best means to exploit them. The culture of publishing is incredibly arrogant about itself, I think because the years of work that went into getting to the top has made those who reside there (fewer and fewer each week) prickly about pretty much everything except their own rank & status. Outside the bubble, no one cares. But these people never leave the bubble. Media will survive and thrive. But the paradigm for how that will occur is years away. In the meantime we can expect a bumpy ride, and the many factual errors in this article speak to just how bumpy that ride will be.

  • Duncan Osborne

    Let me point out that is was not Editor & Publisher that used its sources inside HX Media and Genre to keep the community updated on the goings on in those two gay media companies. It was queerty.com that has done that over the past few years.

    It was not the Washington Post that kept us apprised of the investigation into the killing of Robert Wone. It was the Washington Blade that has done that. The Post and other mainstream press outlets followed the Blade’s coverage.

    Here in New York City, it was Gay City News that reported extensively on the prostitution arrests of gay men in Manhattan porn shops by vice cops. Only the Gotham Gazette and the New York Times have done stories of any serious length on this topic and the Times story sucked.

    In 2007, when ENDA was being debated in the community, that debate happened on queerty.com, towleroad.com, pamshouseblend.com, joemygod.blogspot.com, to name just a few important web sites, on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show on Sirius, and in the pages of gay press outlets across the country. (My list is not meant to be comprehensive.) It did not happen in mainstream press outlets. At all.

    On ENDA, the mainstream press did what it always does. Reporters parachuted in at the last minute, interviewed Barney Frank, someone at the Human Rights Campaign, another token homosexual or two, assumed it now had a comprehensive take on the gay community position, and wrote some really slight, forgettable stories.

    I can cite example after example of stories of importance to the LGBT community that were ignored by mainstream press outlets or that the mainstream press got wrong when it finally reported those stories.

    If you want to know what is happening in the LGBT community, there is a single set of sources available to you — the web sites I named ( am sure I am forgetting a few), the gay papers and magazines, and the handful of radio and television outlets that have dedicated LGBT news programming. If you rely on the mainstream press for news about the LGBT community, you will be uninformed.

    Do we even need gay media? If you think it is important to be informed about the community and if you think the community needs a place to debate issues that matter to us, then, yes, we need gay media.

  • Chitown Kev

    Good comments, all!

  • bunny

    word has it the here tv offices in NY are folding… and all content on the web site is at least a month old. done and done.

  • Timmeeeyyy

    If the folks at Genre want to do a post-mortem, they simply need to read this article and the comments. The overall consensus seems to be that the magazine was just irrelevant to many of our lives. Hope other magazines take note.

  • ousslande

    Who wants to read a story that is a month or two old when you can get it fresh on the web. PLus looking at twentysomethings groomed within an each of their lives is ok for two minutes but not at those cover prices. Maybe if they did really indepth news peices and interviews instead of throwing some b list actor on the cover talking about how brave of him/her to play gay.
    Most of the mags were mouth peices for the dem party so politically spoke nothing to me. I agree with the one commenter about Istinct magazine at least they have a sense of humor.

    How bout a magazine for those that shop at wlamart and kohls.

  • GayIsTheWay

    I would not rely on haterosexuals for anything related to homosexuality at all. Japhy is crazy if he thinks mainstream media does a better job covering gay events than gay media.

    Some gay men don’t want to respond to market conditions that’s why they refuse to pick up gay magazines that feature buff men. They want muscular man (they will deny it but look at their porn stache and you’ll find it’s only muscular men) but don’t want to do the work required to get a body like that and find a man like that. These gay men want to stick their head in the sand and complain at the same time.

    Although Instinct magazine isn’t perfect it’s the best national gay magazine in the world. They actually put gay men on the cover and dedicate their magazine to gay men. That means a lot and I am loyal because of it.

    The Huffington Post is doing a great job. Gay online media should look to them as a model.

  • Jason in WV

    First, I must agree that gay media is a bit stereotypical. Not everyone is a vain, self-involved, shaved n’ painted nancy boy who loves to wear heels and maribou while turning on the catwalk. If that is the point of gay print media, then it will die.

    And porn? There is better porn on the internet than in gay publications. IF that is the point of gay print media, it will die.

    However, there will always be a place for gay print media – and lgbt print media in general. I know that a lot of the world now has the internet – but there are still places that are remote, isolated sections of the world (like my state) in which the internet is slow – and in some parts there’s still dialup or dsl. There is also a small town vibe here – families who know everyone, see each other all the time, go to schools where the same families have gone to school for generations.

    Print media is needed in these places because young gays and lesbians can’t find it easily on the internet when it is blocked. The magazines at the local convenience stores amount to “Sluts r Us”, “Field and Stream”, and “Womans World”. In places like this, the local population do not allow gay people to survive – but they do. We grow up and get out of town, find a place of our own, and we thrive.

    All that happens because we take trips out to DC, or Pittsburgh. Maybe a summer vacation in Miami or Ft Lauderdale. And we find a gay bookstore, one that carries gay publications – and we stock up.

    So we NEED gay print media. It may not be economical, it may not be feasible to sell to the target audience, but you can’t let down the next generation. How the hell are they going to know who they are if there is nothing in print for them to identify with?

  • Aaron

    I think another part of gay media, that from my understanding is doing well, are the gay art magazines. Magazines such as Pinups, Butt Magazine, Pisszine, S.T.H, etc. While, I agree, some these magazine are not the best reflection on the gay community they are important.

    Plus these magazines aren’t really affected by the internet. While the information in the magazines featured above one can easily access on the internet, these magazine are art pieces. Having a tangible copy of an art magazine is just as important as the images and writings inside.

    Lastly, this year during the NY Art Book Fair they celebrated queer magazines. They were featured in the main exhibition and their creations were asked to give lectures about their own magazines. These independent, mostly self published, magazines are having a resurgence.

    For me I would rather spend my money on a art piece with substance than a high gloss magazine where I can get the same information online. Just a thought.

  • Ben

    Er, Instinct is the best magazine on the world because it puts gay people on the cover? That’s a pathetic compensation for complete lack of content – no real features, no good photography, no interesting columnists. And those gay covers? Last month it was a registered nurse whose sole claim to fame was that he was… a gay registered nurse… And we care?

  • Bob

    This article alone is proof of why we need print media. I’m an employee at Regent Media (owner of The Advocate, Out, and other titles), and the factual inaccuracies regarding Regent and its publications in this piece are numerous. Yes, people can get info much sooner on the Internet, but in the rush to put stuff on their sites Internet writers have little or no time to check their facts, and I’m sure there’s no fact-checking department at Queerty. And so they end up with pieces like this that are interesting and thought-provoking, but not exactly true. But that’s the challenge for all media these days — balancing the need to be first with the news with the need to actually get it right. No one seems to be able to do both well.

  • Geoff

    For me, economics played the biggest role. Out of work going on six months…my internet connection is more important than spending the money on a magazine. Besides….I have Queerty!

  • Accuracy Lacking

    Following up with some detail: 1) When PlanetOut went public, they did not own LPI media. They had tried to merge previously but called it off when the dot.com bubble burst. They did buy LPI one year (roughly) after going public. 2) Regent announced its purchase scheme for PlanetOut in 2009, and it is not completed at this time. Regent did purchase LPI from PlanetOut in 08, and PlanetOut is therefore not the holding company for LPI (Advocate, etc.) 3) PlanetOut remains by itself at the moment, an online only company with a skeleton staff. 4) The cash infusion from Bill Gates et al was $50 million, not $150. The staff reduction at PlanetOut was after it sold LPI to Regent. Now for some subjective notes. The new monthly Advocate is much improved from the b-weekly version, in my opinion. It has more depth to some stories and is generally a better product. During the time it owned LPI, PlanetOut starved the company for the money needed to drive readership. This is because PlanetOut ran out of money after its huge bet on RSVP, which ultimately crashed horribly. That said, taking Advocate to monthly is not in fact a major cost saving device. Regent has a huge advantage over other competitors because of its diversified business model. It has revenue from film distribution and production partnerships that offset the losses on the print side, which are likely steep. The latest issues of some LPI magazines have almost no ads in them except Regent ads (house ads). The magazine distribution model is also hurting (like the parts suppliers that underly much of the risk in Automotive, the infrastructure for Magazine distribution AND RETAIL is in serious flux. All things considered, without heavy subsidies from other revenue sources, these publications cannot stand alone. But those subsidies are there, for now at least.

  • The Lesbian Mafia

    The problem very often is IMHO … what you commonly find behind lgbt business are a bunch of unprofessional people. Lesbians and gay men are just as catty as any stepford wife. They hold personal, political, and gender grudges. Gay men love to put women down and talk about thier bodies and most lesbians don’t think it’s cute the way a brainless slutty fag hag would. And lesbian media is very insular and quite often humorless. They’re so PC, god forbid you use the wrong term. They’re obssessed with terms, and whine about every single thing you do and say. It’s very hard for lesbians to promote other lesbians because they become just as bitchy and catty as straight women do and become jealous of what you have that they don’t, hence they don’t cover other lesbians properly or won’t cover you at all because they let feelings get in the way of business. Very VERY immature. On the flip side, gay male media is positively notorious for excluding any lesbian content whatsoever, as if they live in a world all thier own, it comes off very contemptuousness of women, until of course when they are on the brink of collapse, they suddenlty become curiously interested in lesbians.

  • mark Segal

    being in the gay media business for 33 years now (PGN is celebrating it’s 33rd year) and we’ve been through recessions before and survived.

    You might note that the publications that are currently having difficulties are ones that have leadership with little newspaper publishing experience or worse little LGBT community newspaper publishing. The LGBT newspapers with experienced staffs are doing fine. Dallas Voice, San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Philadelphia Gay News. We must learn to work with new technology and embrace bloggers.

    Newspapers are a living breathing part of our community. Like everything alive it has to learn to change with the times.

  • Joel

    As a long time subscriber of the Advocate I’ve found it difficult to watch it’s slow demise into another Out Magazine. Everyone keeps saying they no longer read magazine because they find the news on the internet. Internet sites like Queerty and Towleroad are great. I read them, love them but they are more news aggregators than content generators. It’s The Advocate and the Blade that flush out the stories that then these websites latch on to. Without the primary news organizations gay news blogs will vanish. It’s the same for almost all blogs. They need the NYTimes, Newsweek, CNN and other content generators who have the big staffs and the time to flush out stories. What I liked about the Advocate was that I’d read a few paragraphs one week on a blog and then a few days later the full flushed out story would be in the magazine.

    One of the biggest strengths of reading magazines and newspapers is that one can find a full spectrum of the news. Reading just on the web one only gets a filtered and some times slanted point of view. You have more voices on the internet but people tend to home in like a laser on voices just like their own. Making us all a little bit narrow minded each day.Joe

  • Accuracy Lacking

    @Mark, I agree with your point. Who couldn’t. But the web offering of the B.A.R. for one is just terrible. It is not even web 1.0, much less 2.0. I know that building and maintaining a web presence is tough for a local paper, but golly I wish they were doing more. There is no community online for that paper, and while it is hanging in there for now, I wonder for how long?

  • Accuracy Lacking

    @Joe, I agree with your assessment of the current ideal paradigm for interactivity between web and print. That said, it has proven to be cost prohibitive and unsustainable. What is interesting to me about the (current) failings in terms of accuracy for web-only coverage is how the community element (which thankfully is allowed to fully flower here versus the heavily monitored version on some other sites like Advocate) serves as a gate keeper and truth seeker in its own right. From what I can tell, the online model works best when it engages with and responds to its won community. A sort of bottom-up model. IN that sense, Queerty has a team of thousands of crack reporters, and similar sites that learn how to leverage that resource smartly will thrive and become the new, and most importantly — sustainable — media model.

  • mark Segal

    @Accuracy Lacking:

    We’re all still attempting to get up to speed. Like the Daily’s we’re trying different formats. I’m sure B.A.R. as well as PGN (my pub) would appreciate your views and suggestions.

  • Mark M

    @Joel: That’s just it.. I didn’t see a full spectrum of news, or even of voices from the GLBT world.. just more 22 year olds in CKs playing with their blackberrys talking about how wonderful it is to be 22, in CKs, and how many apps they have on their blackberry. I don’t need the perspective to be exactly like mine, but the obsession with the same rubber-stamp view of gay life was as disenfranchizing as being in Junior High. blech.

  • Vanhattan

    As many here have pointed out, the gay media is suffering just like the main stream media for not providing relevant information and articles.

    For example, I stopped reading the advocate years ago because I just could not take anymore crap from the fabulous A List queens who live in the gay ghettos of NY or SF telling the flyover state gays how to live their lives.

    I live on the coast now, but still find it incredible that the gay press in general thinks that everyone glbtq is living with a six or seven figure income, spend 4 or more hours in the gym daily, buy only prada or jil sander or party every night in an exclusive gay club, etc.

    Readers of the gay press did not leave them, the gay press left their readers a long time ago.

  • Accuracy Lacking

    @Mark — for what its worth your site is easy to comment on (a good thing). I would only say that asking your contributors to extend their editorial into blogs that are only tangentially linked to the core site would be a good thing. A core site that is a hub with blogs as its spokes is a model that I think would work pretty well. It requires that contributors use their blogs as the core, and the print and sister site pull from those blogs. Its the software that I like (blogs) as it is relatively affordable and the cost of keeping it technically up to date is amortized across the customer base of bloggers. For some SF sites that do it well, check out (I offer no value judgement as to the actual content on these, rather just to the nimbleness and extensibility of their models):

    http://sf.curbed.com/ (and the curbed network)

    Pardon my focus on SF, but it is the new media hub and the Mission district is its own little Berlin 1930 — a beehive within a hub within the mother ship. :-)

  • Buddy

    @Bob: Bob, I’ve worked in media, gay and straight (had to put that j-school education to use for a few years) and in the course of my career have been profiled a few times in print. Every story of which I was the subject got at least a handful of facts wrong. As reporters we strive for accuracy, but honestly, even with a less immediate publishing schedule and a room full of fact checkers, we still get things wrong. In that respect I don’t think Queerty is any worse than a local gay paper.

  • hamshank

    I’d like to say I think The Advocate’s stronger now, in the last few months, than in a decade. The weekly/biweekly model wasn’t working for any news magazines, and a move monthly made sense.

  • michael

    In many ways I do not know if the gay media is all that necessary. Especially when it comes to lifestyle. There are plenty of better resources for fashion, architecture and interior design. And lets face it, gays are a huge part of those areas anyway that their influence is completely infused. I have also found those areas to be quite narrow in gay magazines anyway. Not all of our tastes lean toward living in the perfect mid century modern L.A. box and for most of us over 40 wearing the recommended fashion choices only leaves us open to being referred to as tired old queens desperately trying to hold onto to our youth anyway.

    For me personally I do find a place for gay media when it comes to gay news. I feel like we are fighting again in a way we have not for years for our rights and I don’t know if I completely entrust receiving all my news about these matters from mainstream media.
    Until our equality is encoded into law I think there is going to be a huge need for information sources that are dedicated to us. But with the internet I think we will find most of our needs met in this area anyway.

  • Hard News Vs. Hard Naked Boys

    “Don’t blame the writers and editors. Blame management.”

    I’d like to underscore that pivotal point. I’ve been in gay media nearly two decades and have worked with many talented and dedicated journalists–who are often handicapped by greedy higher-ups who believe “no one reads” and who view their own readerships with condescension.

    These owners got away with it–and had no reason to invest $$$ in the Internet–because they had a steady ad base and no competition until recently. Then the pharmaceuticals stopped advertising, as did the music and porn industries, and blogs like queerty stole their readers.

    And can we stop comparing Advocate and The Blade with Out and Instinct. There is a difference between news sources and lifestyle/entertainment coverage. Half-naked pretty boys in expensive underwear belong in the later (how many mainstream entertainment mags feature “regular”-looking folks?). News and entertainment are often intertwined in LGBT media (Exhibit A: Queerty). This complicates matters.

    Finally: Yes, we desperately need LGBT media. As Duncon Osborne pointed out, when LGBT media (ie, the reporters and editors) do their jobs, they cover LGBT issues better than any MSM outlets.

  • jim

    “…focusing on advertiser-friendly ‘lifestyle’ topics like fashion and arts and entertainment to lure in subscribers.” And that perfectly sums up why my subscriptions have either lapsed or been out-right cancelled. Anyone here ever watch PBS’ “Now” with David Brancaccio”? A different medium, perhaps, but that’s the kind of subject coverage it would be nice to see in a mag like The Advocate.

  • Trevor

    @Brian Miller:
    It’s too bad that a publication like abOUT in Toronto isn’t more widely distributed. They tend to be more balanced (the editor is a moderate gay conservative) and they have a couple other columnists that give interesting views across the board. They also actually interview interesting people. Last issue, they interviewed real estate/reality show guy Jeff Lewis (gay) about the whole mortgage meltdown thing. Was much better to read that kind of thing instead of all the fashion and stuff.

    Their web site is http://www.aboutmag.com. We should email the publisher and ask them to start distributing in more places.

  • The Hare

    @bunny: Bunny, whol told you that about the NYC office of here!? It is simply not true.

  • The Hare

    I don’t understand why we keep eating our own? There is not one positive piece of information in this article about gay media. What a total disservice to our community.

    Shouldn’t we be celebrating the diverse offerings of all gay media instead of trying to tear it down? Just a thought.

  • Mark M

    @The Hare: Which diverse offerings are you referring to?

  • cruiser

    I agree with the majority ofthe comments here, it does seem as though not that(not just)the gay media is experiencing “growing pains” but so is every other type of(especially print)media is also. Whereas several of the commentors here feel that the gay media is unneccessary, the majority feel as though it does serve its purpose as a fact gathering, as well as a dissemination point for all(well may not ALL)the news that involves(directly or indirectly)the LBGT community. It is too bad that even though the print media in general saw “the handwriting on the wall” they did not attempt to revise their business models sooner so they would have been more able to adapt to the new formats. Now as it is they are all “grasping at straws” in an attempt to survive these very uncertain economic times. Publications like The Advocate were in a position where they were able to restructure their model which gave them a better chance at survival. Yes I do think there is a place in this “brave new world” for the gay media, the question is where is that place & what is it, and how do they make it work…better?!

  • Pragmatist

    I think blogs such as this one are a great way to get up-to-the-minute commentary on breaking news, discussion on small events that ordinarily wouldn’t merit a whole article, and interactive discussion. But do they provide a good substitute for print publications like Out or Têtu? No way. Print publications have, and have always had, a level of polish and sophistication that is head and shoulders above that of blogs.

    Unfortunately, blogs have undercut sales of print publications in almost every sector. I suppose I blame it on the fact that the publications catered to an audience that was never very literate to begin with. That kind of audience didn’t place much value on the superior writing and production quality of print publications, and so was very willing to go where the content is free.

  • Major Matt

    Thank you Qweerty, and everyone who commented on this topic, for some insightful and interesting thoughts. I’m on the advertising side of things, and am very much in the camp of believing we need a dedicated G&L media. (That being said, I could not agree more with many who posted their thoughts about the gay male style books.)

    I’m not sure what the solution is, but the publishers would be best served to look beyond who they think is their “target reader,” and do a better job of recognizing that G&L individuals are not all the same, come from all parts of the country, and live varied lives.

    My favorite new gay title is a smart, well designed lesbian book out of LA called “Jane & Jane.” Puts the gay male books to shame.

  • michael

    I love the way that some of the posters on this thread that are part of the media like to refer to their advertisers and market as being stolen from them. When I think of the word stole I think of someone illegally taking something that they have no right to take. Stop whining and playing victim. If you are to survive you will have to rise to the challenge and become more creative and responsive to the market. But if you are going to try to portray internet sources of news and information as some sort of unscrupulous crooks who are taking what is rightfully yours then you are pathetic and destined for total failure. Grow up, accept that nothing in life is stagnant and adapt.
    Queerty nor any other media outlet has stole anything from you.

  • Charlie

    As an Editor of a medium market gay paper, I agree it is hard to compete with the internet, and sometimes even our straight paper. Yet we do offer things that they do not. We cover events in our community – not just the marches, but the smaller stories that would never get covered in mainstream papers and for some reason don’t get covered that well on the internet either – perhaps because most internet publishers seldom step away from their monitors. Earth breaking news, perhaps not, but it is the news of our community – From AIDS walks to the formation of a new gay seniors club, we cover the beat

  • rick

    does this mean i might stop getting my copies of out magazine that i never asked to be subscribed to? god i hope so.

  • JimmyHarper

    @JT: You really hit the nail on the head! I’m sick of straight celebrities on the cover of gay publications– Andy Samberg? Katy Perry? REALLY?– as well as ludicrous “thinly veiled advertisement” articles for fashion, travel, and retail. I remember adding up the cost of the clothing and acessories worn by a model in an Out photo shoot some years back. The total was nearly $1000 even though he was largely naked except for a bathing suit! Especially in these times, who the hell can afford to be that extravagant? As for Paul Colichman’s admission that here! magazine was nothing but a marketing tool: big shocker. It was patently obvious that the fluffy rag existed for the sole purpose of advertising here!’s abysmally bad shows.

  • Dan

    Lifestyle and fashion articles leave me cold and numb. I just skip over them, although I will read historical and cultural pieces. What I’m looking for is overwhelmingly news, especially in depth.

    I want to know what rights I have, and which ones I’m likely to get in the next year or so. I don’t read about celebrities – gay or heterosexual – unless they’ve done something newsworthy from an LGBT perspective, such as expounded on our rights at the Oscars. So I’m not surprised that the move toward lighter coverage fell flat.

  • Ed

    I was a subscriber of out and advocate for about two years. I felt compelled to support the gay media. What i got was a sad and very dissapointing mag which said nothing to me. I am succesful professional in a red state who enjoys a little bit of fashion and celebrity news. But common, the stuff in the lifestyles section did not appeal to me at all. And where do people get this idea that skinny hairless model are appealing accross the board.

    THe news article although ok , are not enough to get me to renew my subscription.

    I hope they change their focus.

  • David

    This conversation is, of course, too little too late. It’s a horrible thing to watch gay newspapers suffer – they absolutely contribute to our common good. But I’m not entirely certain we should be mourning the industry as a whole; as one poster stated, many newspapers are doing just fine. Those that have low-quality business models will die out, and will be replaced with other media; some online, some offline.

    Here at EDGE, we don’t fit easily into the “buckets” that make up the gay media industry – at least according to this blog. But we’re dynamic, we’ve got a large, national, growing readership, we’re entirely digital, and we’re working with many major gay newspapers to help them realize new revenue streams from an increasingly online world. (We’re also desperate for journalists – so for those of you in this thread who are bemoaning the lack of work, please send your resume to us at [email protected].)

    Some gay media companies are struggling – and the proverbial writing on the wall is probably posted for a number of our most recognizable properties, which is unfortunate. But that does not mean that “gay press” is dying; it is simply evolving. And the fact that we keep equating the death of a tiny number of those high-profile print titles with the industry as a whole is, IMHO, nonsensical.

  • Waldo

    Oh fuck all, like Queerty and Towleroad do any better- news and gossip sandwiched in between photo spreads of boys who either are- or don’t need to be, waxed within an inch of their lives. Adapt to reality or you’re headed down the same gurgler.

  • regent

    Dear Queerty,

    As executive vice president and general manager of Regent Media, I read your post with great interest as it relates to the question, “Is This the End of Gay Media?” As an employee of gay media, I find many of your assertions paint an inaccurate picture of our company’s landscape and strategy.

    First of all, you note that The Advocate changed its publishing schedule to monthly. This decision was made in May of 2008, well ahead of the current challenges that face print media. http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=3265
    Clearly, Queerty would like to link that decision with doom and gloom in order to support your site’s effort to be “provocative.” The fact of the matter is that the strategic decision was part and parcel of the company’s envisioning of the relationship between the print and online expressions of The Advocate. It was long overdue and part of our immediate plan. That online and print strategy is proving even more beneficial during the unexpected collapse of the American economy. Advocate.com’s traffic has increased by triple digits, and newsstand sales of the monthly magazine are exceeding our goals. While an e-mail sent out to entertainment publicists from Queerty’s editor uses traffic numbers that dispute that, it should be noted that Regent Media is not tagged for the analytics service that Queerty refers to. Additionally, our direct mail campaigns renewing or signing up new subscriptions are the strongest they have been in years.

    Your post goes on to say that The Advocate’s “parent company” PlanetOut reduced its staff by a third. PlanetOut has not been The Advocate’s parent company since Regent Media completed its acquisition in August of 2008. This simple fact underscores the many inaccuracies posted to this site.

    Amplifying Queerty’s incorrect reporting, this piece goes on to discuss specific staff members like Kerry Eleveld (whose named is spelled incorrectly in your piece). Contrary to your assertion, Ms.Eleveld is not and has never been The Advocate’s sole news staffer. Sean Kennedy is currently our news editor, and Eleveld has transitioned from political editor to Washington correspondent. Indeed, moving Ms.Eleveld to Washington, D.C., expands our presence in the hub of a dynamic political climate that is important to our LGBT audience. Other news staffers, including Neal Broverman, Ross von Metzke, and Michelle Garcia, are part of our dedicated newsroom.

    We are very proud of the work that our news staff and a bevy of contributing writers like Julie Bolcer (who was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for her Advocate.com work) and others are doing. Such good efforts from a hardworking group of LGBT journalists allowed Advocate.com to suspend its use of the AP in 2008 after Regent Media’s acquisition of the stalwart brand.

    And as long as we are talking about the work of great journalists, it needs to be said that the expansion of The Advocate’s scope of coverage to provide more attention to subjects like finance and health speak to the needs of all LGBT Americans. Expansion in coverage of these topics is not at the expense of news in the brand. News coverage has also expanded on the Web with a growing video strategy as well. What the LGBT audience interacts with every day is not limited or defined merely by our sexual orientation, but rather how we live comprehensive lives as members of society. While your post is critical of The Advocate’s expansion into covering new topics, looking at the entire world through an LGBT lens is something that only gay media can and will ever do. If we don’t share our thoughts or points of view on issues that affect our lives, who will?

    Finally, I find it disconcerting that your post states that you reached out to David Unger, who did not respond to your requests for comment, yet you failed to reach out to our company and you posted completely out-of-context and outdated quotes from our CEO Paul Colichman. After I passed the inaccurate statement describing PlanetOut as owner of The Advocate when the company went public in 2004 (it did not buy The Advocate until 2005), I was taken aback by the quote from Paul that he has no interest in gay media. While it’s true that there was one issue of a here! Networks branded “magazine,” it was a marketing tool in its inception. The very old quote speaks to the marketplace as having been saturated by established, solid LGBT print brands. Since purchasing the properties, everyone at this company, starting with Colichman and his partner Steve Jarchow, has been committed to reinvigorating what Queerty refers to as “the most prominent gay publication on the planet.”

    For 41 years The Advocate has been built on the shoulders of men and women who cared deeply about our community having a voice. Regent Media takes the responsibility of continuing that tradition very seriously as well as the responsibility of providing a progressive, secure workplace for its hundreds of employees and thousands of freelance journalists, contractors, and artists. While we strive for perfection every day, we are under no illusion that we are perfect. We try every day to do a better job at what we do and eagerly look for constructive criticism to make our brands better. We are optimistic around our challenges and grateful for the opportunity to work with talented people doing important work. In the eternal words of Gloria Gaynor, we too “will survive”, and be better for it with the support, experience and guidance from the LGBT community.


    Stephen F. Macias
    EVP, General Manager
    Regent Media

  • I heart Waldo

    ’cause ya made me laugh, Madge.

  • mattsmith

    Does striving for perfection include the programing on here! Because dude you have got your work cut out for you – please add news programing and current events and cut out the warmed over lame Canadian shlock will ya –

  • Japhy Grant

    @regent: We’d be happy to speak with you anytime, Stephen. Let us know when.

  • Peace, my sisters

    Stephen, with all your heart-o-gold goodwill (and your fat office and salary many x more than your many beloved colleagues), why don’t you have your person call him and set something up? Your big enough, right? Peace out.

  • Smokey Martini


    I think you’re expecting far too much from Queerty.

    As far as I can recall, it is no longer considered a news site and, hence, does not need to follow the basic journalistic standards of accurate reporting…

  • Carter

    There are so many inaccuracies in this story I don’t even know where to begin. Lets suffice to say that we do need gay print media as it allows time for fact checking, something Queerty obviously does not.

  • Jenson99

    Why do we even need a gay press? As a gay man, I seldom pick up any gay magazines. I get everything I need from the mainstream press. What is it that binds two gay men together into some sort of collective “culture,” that they both enjoy making love to a man? Is that enough to base a culture, a magazine around? Are we only loosely tethered together by the singles’ scene? These are questions I grapple with, but I wonder if, as the older gay generation dies off, and my generation comes to power if we’ll even need to have a “gay culture.” It seems to me a hold over from darker times when gay men faced the AIDS crisis and got all the camaraderie and togetherness they needed at their local bars. Or even when being gay was so shame inducing that gay men had to converge at a bar to be in the company of men like them. But now, in 2009, I’m not sure there’s much of a bind between gay men aside from wanting to meet a loved one. Maybe we’re victims of our own success? Maybe because of the guys who met at bars in the past, today’s younger generations of gays are growing up so assimilated that there’s no need for a label like “gay.”

  • ShhDontSay

    @The Lesbian Mafia: I’ve worked for and with numerous gay male media over the past 15 years and everything you say about the lack of professionalism is true (and then some).

    I’ve found a few people here and there who are competent but they soon realize the pond they’re swimming is filled with people who don’t know what they’re doing and leave for a better (paying) pond filled with grownups.

    I’m not suggesting that the woes they’re encountering can be laid wholly on this but it sure can’t help the bottom line when staffing changes and morale churns.

  • Shaniqua Ubangi

    @Japhy – Maybe you should have spoken with him first before you printed the article.

  • Tyler

    The Advocate is really the only serious and beneficial “gay” up to date newsworthy media out there, and the Gay Media will never go away, it will just be readjusted to feed the starving market.

  • Herb

    To actually read and make sense of all of this here, guess what I would have to do.

    It’s probably a very interesting article, but it becomes an electronic blur.

    maybe I’m an oldtimer and my eyes are bad, but to read this, I have to print it out.

  • MassEdge35

    I find it interesting that an EVP from Regent decided to chime in on this discussion. Say what you want about Queerty (which I love), it’s clear that the powers that be at Regent are paying attention to blogs like this. The Advocate and OUT received quite a bit of their “paid circulation” from the gay.com web site sign ups. In addition, these magazines have been money losers for some time and it seems that Regent, just like PlanetOut, has zero clue how to blend print, video, online, etc. into a working entity. The posting on MediaBistro this week spoke volumes to the fact that they are looking for a Marketing Manager to make this happen. Unreal. PlanetOut went through over $100 million in their “efforts” And folks if you really want to get a good laugh, look at PlanetOut’s filings with the powerpoint presentation that Regent presented to PlanetOut’s stockholders. But let me address the latest direct mail piece I received from Regent, it was laughable. I’d love to know what the response rates were. In any event, let Regent Media do whatever they want to do. At this point the stockholders and all those investors have been fucked over and some good staff people while the idiot managers at PlanetOut really banked at the expense of the community. Believe me, someone is watching this Regent/PlanetOut farce and is already coming up with an idea to compete. The Advocate and OUT aren’t relevant anymore. You can’t force the gay consumer to buy these properties just because they are gay.

  • Chris C

    Queerty uses inaccuracies, seeds stories with hate (quotes that they create themselves) to light a fire under readers. Out and Advocate are terrific publications. You should be proud. Your team should try to secure a few of the Genre execs who were victims of that whole Window Media – David Unger mess. Neal Boulton, Kevin Naff, William Kapfer, Kevin Hopper — the company has so many quality guys who will now be out of work. Best of luck, Mr. Macias. Keep up the good work.
    Fan from Chicago!

  • J. Jackson

    The Blade dropped the ball when it came to covering the Wone murder. They should’ve owned the story by doing serious investigation rather than regurgitate whatever happened at a given court proceeding. I’ve been following this case for two years anf the Wone blog guys are eating their lunch every day.

    The Blade is too worried about offending sensibilities and Keven Naff is too timid to take the game to Joe Price and his band of brothers who’ve been charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and crime scene tampering. Some celebrated gay rights attorney Price turned out to be!

  • David Anger

    The Blade dropped the ball when it came to covering the Wone murder. They should’ve owned the story by doing serious investigation rather than regurgitate whatever happened at a given court proceeding. I’ve been following this case for two years anf the Wone blog guys are eating their lunch every day.
    The Blade is too worried about offending sensibilities and Keven Naff is too timid to take the game to Joe Price and his band of brothers who’ve been charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and crime scene tampering. Some celebrated gay rights attorney Price turned out to be! Bla, bla, bla….

  • Queer Daily

    Interesting article. I am deeply saddened to see the gay media vanish like this. Even though most of it is print media I love to read the articles on the plane or somewhere that you normally cannot get internet. The reporting is the main thing I will miss and those flashy ads in magazine print. I normally ignore ads online!

    I think it is great that Stephen F. Macias from Regent Media chimed into the conversation. I was highly disappointed though when Here media bought over the Gay web monkey sites because they discontinued my advertising which kind of shows their ignorance in a way to new media. Possibly Regent runs things better?

    With the 2010 elections coming up we need gay media now more than ever. So many huge things on the line for gay rights.

  • dc

    The articles are stupid. The coverage of fashion, lifestyle and entertainment are alien and offensive to me. These papers come off as conveying the thoughts within a 13 year old mind.

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