The Advocate To Win Over Readers With … Heavier Card Stock?

The Global Media Apocalypse has forced some belt tightening over at The Advocate today as the magazine moves from a bi-weekly to monthly format, slimming down from 22 issues a year to 12. The Jan. 10th cover of the magazine will be the first issue in the new format, which also features slightly heavier paper stock and a promise to focus less on celebrity covers (crazy talk in the publishing industry). The new-ish editorial team blames the old editorial team for its current woes, which you know, is what you do, but it’s funny that editor Jon Barret mentions “an auto column” as something that “sometimes missed the mark” in the old regime while Vanity Fair just added a gay auto blog called Stick Shift this year. And it’s awesome! Maybe someone should write a column about deck chair rearranging on sinking ships, instead.

All sorts of fun “We know what we’re doing now” plans are detailed in a story by Media Week:

“Jon Barrett, who took over as editor in June, said The Advocate had gone too far in covering politics and gay subgroups, and that the service content introduced by the former editor, such as an auto column, sometimes missed the mark. Barrett, who earned his service magazine stripes at titles like Hearst Magazines’ now-folded O at Home and Time Inc.’s Real Simple, will introduce six new service columns on topics including finance and health, while covering issues from an insider perspective that he said readers won’t find elsewhere. February’s Obama cover story will tackle legislative matters important to gays, ahead of the mainstream press, for example.”

We’re sort of stumped by this news that Barrett sees news as the one thing holding The Advocate back from success, and what the gays really want, is more columns about how they can save up for their latest boot camp regime. But hey, we’re just a blog. What do we know?

(Also: Laughable that a monthly magazine thinks it can beat “the mainstream press.” Good luck with that.)

“For the first nine months of 2008, The Advocate’s ad pages fell 16.7 percent to 361, according to Publishers Information Bureau. (Out’s declined 2.7 percent to 393 in the same period.) Joe Landry—who returned as senior vp, publisher of parent Regent Media, in June after a 14-month stint as president of BlackBook Media—said the editorial changes and heftier paper weight would better position The Advocate to go after categories like packaged goods, luxury goods and travel. “A biweekly newsmagazine is not a sustainable model,” he said. “Certainly, it doesn’t make sense when people are getting their news online.”

Oh right, we totally forgot that it’s blogs like Queerty that have rendered print dinosaurs like The Advocate irrelevant. It’s got to suck when a key component of your rescue is heavier paper stock.

And the magazine, owned by the gay media conglomerate Regent Media, plans to synergize the hell out of itself, so advertisers can reach The Advocate‘s dwindling subscriber base while also marketing themeslves on Regent’s irrelevant television network Here!.

“In what he hopes will be the first of many ad deals including print and the here! TV network, Landry said he’s in the process of wrapping up a deal with Holland’s tourism board that would include pages in The Advocate; sponsorship of a film on Holland that would air on the here! TV network; and pre- and post-roll ads surrounding video clips taken from the movie footage that would run on The Advocate’s Web site.”

This is just all-around sad news.

Rather than realizing that print is a lost cause and focusing on reshaping The Advocate into a media organization that reflects the realities of, say, 2009, Regent is doubling down on a dying format.

Perhaps Out — with its focus on luxury goods, models in art-directed photo shoots, and general status-obsession — has a better than average chance of surviving as a print publication; people like that kind of thing on their coffee table. However, if The Advocate wants to be the gay news source, it ought to, as we suggested in our New Year’s resolution to Regent president Paul Colichman, spend more resources beefing up the pub’s reporting staff and focusing on online content than to spend it on the misguided belief that some homo is going to pick up the new Advocate and say, “Honey, look! It’s got thicker paper now! Let’s subscribe!”

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  • Marco Channing

    Wow! Didn’t Jaffy Duck work for the Advocate? Sounds like a bitter break up.

    There is always therapy sweetie.

  • Bob

    Actually, Japhy was FIRED from Frontiers, an L.A. gay rag. Heard he TRIED to get hired at The Advocate or Out, and was rejected. No wonder he’s such a bitter queen toward them!

  • ggreen

    “covering politics and gay subgroups” was the reason most people purchase “The Advocate”. The Advocate should look more like Newsweek and less like Vanity Fair. Jon Barrett sounds like he has his head in his ass. Is he just another gay editor trying to be Anna Wintour? “The Devil Wears Prada” wasn’t a vindication of all things Wintour it was a satire of her self-importance.

  • Qjersey

    If the Advocate is to survive they should focus on thing you can’t find on the web, such as

    1) Investigative reporting.

    2) In depth interviews with relevant people (not puff pieces done by a low paid entry level “journalist” with the latest “gay is ok” celebrity.

    3) A regular feature on what is going on in each state (lord knows most within state gay media just sucks or is on a shoestring budget).

    4) and POLITICS in a way that matters, holding people’s feet to the fire instead of kissass “like me like me” pandering.

  • Alan down in Florida

    Qjersey hit this nail right on the head.

  • hardmannyc

    This is one of most unreasonable and silly posts I’ve ever seen on this blog. Do you have a bug up your ass about the Advocate?

  • QMann

    It’s hard to imagine how anything associated with Here! network can be a success in any way. Who in the world watches that “network”? There’s a market and a demand for gay media/magazines, but the Here! team doesn’t impress me at all!! Queerity is absolutely right on that front!

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    The Avocado Magazine was bi-weekly? Now, we only get it Monthly at the Gay Center for Free? All of you are correct as the gay magazine of alleged Repute should be more like a “Gay” Newsweek than Vanity Fair as GGreen put it. HardheadmanNYC is obviously in the minority opinion and only has dial-up service.

    On Gay Journalism:

    We deserve better as Gays are under siege in heinous violence across this country from New Orleans to Gay Capitals’ New York and San Francisco. Someone needs to pull their hardhat out of their ass. Oh Crappy Lou Grant, you are a shady shyster (often seen at the Starbucks on 8th Ave in Chelsea by own admission.)

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    BTW – Hate Scroll Downs! Boycott Queerty advertising until a responsible editor takes the helm.

  • timmyweb

    Yes, it does sound like there’s some history between the current Queerty editor and Advocate. Sad, since I’ve liked the editorial direction of Queerty since the editorial change-up (not the design though – ick). In the print ad world, a heavier stock means a better quality printed ad, which some high-end advertisers demand. The heavier stock isn’t meant to directly attract readers, it’s meant to entice advertisers, producing more cash flow to devote to other areas. Like reporters and photographers? It may be a DOA strategy if the readers have gone away permanently, but the added resources might be enough to reverse or at least halt the declining readership trend.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    Why am I agreeing with you all the time today? But yeah exactly.

    Why can’they try and get that obvious GAP in the market that doesn’t focus on Gay News???

    They could get educational, govt subscriptions etc. They should look at themselves at being the ‘Go to’ for Gay news-info, statistics etc. Stuff that people like Romney can shove up his ass because it’s stating what is going with LGBT news internationally..

    Again, have I mentioned their is a gap in the market for this?? They could outsource, do presentations nationally or internationally re gay rights/news what is going on…

    It’s very silly to think it’s all about the NET because although it may be….it’s only 75 %….


  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)


    Exactly… etc etc

  • Japhy Grant

    Ha ha. I still write for both magazines as a freelancer. As far as Frontiers goes, they took a staff of 20 and reduced it to three. Sadly, my position was eliminated.

    I expect better rumors about me. I won’t start any rumors about you though, as you don’t need any help with ruining your reputation.

    This kind of whining is getting old. Between it and the racist diatribes, I find myself reading these things less and less.

  • Rock

    Regent Media, the parent company of Advocate and HereTV, has produced some amazing films. “Gods & Monsters” for one and “Little Ashes” (coming soon — we’ll see)

    How many Academy Awards have you won?

    It took decades for HBO & Showtime to start producing high-end quality product. HereTV has only been around a couple of years. Give them a chance.

    As a bystander, but supporter of gay media, I find it disappointing to see people so critical of gay media…

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    Crappy Lou Grant is a little miffed. Hmmm, seems like Queerty got down and dirty and racist during the primaries like the Corporate media to sell advertising clicks to the frothy-mouthed fringes. Did you listen to the backlash on African-American radio as Gays have been ordained the New Bogeyman, not so much the “New Black!”

    The Gay Marriage movement may collapse under it’s snowy avalanche and failure to enlist Gay People of Color in proportional representation (unlike Stonewall!)

    Thanks Smear-ty!

  • Bob

    I seriously doubt you write for The Advocate or Out anymore given your complete bitterness toward them and their parent company in this blog, particularly falsely accusing the CEO of the place of not donating to No on 8 when he actually donated $25,000. But hey, if you say so … so what are you working on for them now, then?
    And you don’t read through the comments to the “stories” you post yourself because you don’t like the feedback? Isn’t that what these blogs are all about?
    And clearly I am not the only person who has recognized your complete lack of objectivity when it comes to The Advocate (see comments above). I think what we’re all suggesting is that you give your vendetta against The Advocate a rest now and then.

  • Rock

    I have to agree,
    I was also disappointed at the complete trashing of the OUT 100 party, which was a benefit for Hetrick-Martin. WTF has Queerty done for the community?

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    Isn’t Japhy the editor….not the publisher??? OR Managing Director??

    Why all the hate…

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    I’m reserving a SPOT for comment #40!


  • Japhy Grant

    Bob, I have a story in Out in March and the reason I cover Regent, The Advocate and Out is that they are the only remaining independent gay media organization. As to the idea that I would be blacklisted by Paul Colichman; you’re not giving him very much credit, are you? Or more so, I think you’re vastly overestimating my importance.

    I’m as critical of Regent in the same way I’d be critical of a mainstream media company, but even more so, because it’s the only game in town for gay and lesbian media. I could sit here day in and day out and not talk about say– an article in Media Week where the new editors of the magazine trash the old editors and then say their big plan is card stock, but then one day, when The Advocate folds, you would come onto this site and decry how nobody saved the magazine and it’s probably all the straight’s fault blah, blah, fucking blah.

    I happen to think that The Advocate and Out are important and I’d like to see them stick around and the best way for them to do that is to adapt to the rapidly changing media landscape. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but magazines left and right are folding and while I get that many of you don’t like hearing negative stories, I think most people appreciate taking the good and the bad.

    Guess what, people: Not everything is always rainbows and sparkles in the gay community and certainly not in gay media. If you want gay Pravda, where it’s all good news all the time, you’re not going to get it from me.

    I’m not your gay Oprah.

    As for EVERYBODY ELSE who is not insane, keep the ideas for how The Advocate could improve coming. Quite a few of them are pretty great. What would YOU like to see in your gay magazine?

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    Crappy Lou Grant is a bit defensive about his obvious inadequacy as an editor so he becomes an attack queer (read: homophobe) by denigrating constructive (and albeit destructive criticism) by attacking Queerness when many posters did lay out the changes needed to this dinosaur era of publishing:

    No. 4 · Qjersey

    If the Advocate is to survive they should focus on thing you can’t find on the web, such as

    1) Investigative reporting.

    2) In depth interviews with relevant people (not puff pieces done by a low paid entry level “journalist” with the latest “gay is ok” celebrity.

    3) A regular feature on what is going on in each state (lord knows most within state gay media just sucks or is on a shoestring budget).

    4) and POLITICS in a way that matters, holding people’s feet to the fire instead of kissass “like me like me” pandering.

    Now, my comment to the Editor of Queerty…
    Crappy: Get laid or get out of Gotham!

  • Bob

    Japhy, you COVER The Advocate and Out? Interesting. It seems like every post you ever make about them is an attack of some sort. Once again, I’ll point out that I’m not the only one who sees you have some bitterness toward them. Scroll up this thread and you’ll see several others who notice you have a vendetta against these particular publications. Where are your attacks on Genre? Instinct? Oh right, I forgot, Regent has the only gay media in the universe, eh? And nice shot at calling me insane. Ad hominem attacks are a sign of a weak argument, dear. :-)

  • Brian Miller

    The Gay Marriage movement may collapse under it’s snowy avalanche and failure to enlist Gay People of Color in proportional representation

    Oh go fuck yourself Seitan.

    Here in Philadelphia, the crowd in support of marriage equality was equivalent to the distribution of race in the city, and was organized and led by one of the city’s more prominent black preachers.

    I am so fucking tired of all this racialist horseshit. Black, white, Asian, purple, who gives a fucking shit — if you’re gay, you’re being fucked over by government. Period.

    And if you think family law and tax policy only applies to “white people,” you’re even stupider and more hateful than you can imagine. Last time I checked, all people, regardless of ethnicity, had families.

    Go peddle your race hatred somewhere else where it’s more palatable — like at the local Klan meeting.

  • jesus_mary

    The sad truth is that the cost savings of going monthly are minimal. The fixed costs of running a traditional print media model (one with a robust reporting and editorial, art and production staff) are pretty much the same with bi-monthly, weekly or monthly. Advocate has been struggling for years, losing money and losing readership. The web platform is now 15 years old, and its traffic so diffuse that the revenue potential for a robust Advocate online is not up to the costs. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Regent buy the rest of PlanetOut — trying to leverage’s (shrinking) critical mass of cruising for sex gay men — to drive traffic to the media sites. But that is what PlanetOut tried to do and failed at (miserably). So long as Regent has robust profits from its other operations, they will stay committed to the print pubs. Even if they lose money on the face of it. But what happens if Regent’s other arms are not profitable?

  • Dave

    Well even though the fixed costs are going to stay largely the same, the quality should improve – I picked up a copy in October and wasn’t entirely impressed I’d been expecting it to be a little harder hitting. About the web, you may be able to get the latest breaking news online but you rarely get all the facts for at least a week and even then a lot of American online news services get a substantial amount of material from the AP which tends to be just the bare bones so your not even getting a different viewpoint.

    Though the AP does bring something to mind perhaps the Advocate should make an agreement with Pink News in the UK and a couple other LGBT news publishers so they can have an international segment with pieces on events from around the globe? Though that might be expansion that might take them outside the market demographic their attempting to target currently – shrug.

  • james ii

    Generally i like queerty and japhy but to say ‘blogs like me’ have made dead paper mags like the advocate irrelevant is wrong. i guess i am biased because i am part of the old, paper-based mainstream media, but it seems to be a particular point of boasting for bloggers of all sorts to say they have rendered paper-based media irrelevant, but for all their faults and for being behind the times, its the paper media that breaks the stories, has the resources to cover real news, etc. I’m really tired of bloggers saying that they’re the future, print is dead, but then you go to the blog and most of the stuff on it is just their interpretation of stuff they’ve read either in print or on the print media’s web sites.

    That being said, though, i’m bothered by the direction the advocate thinks they have to go in to survive. luxury goods? travel? geez, leave the superficial stuff to out and genre. has the advocate’s editor not read the stories in the magazine? does he not know that we’re not all jet-setters wearing the latest and most expensive fashions? I agree with QJersey — just cover the news, man. And cover it well.

    Also,a s a subscriber, i’m a bit miffed that i have not gotten one bit of communication from the advocate regarding the change in frequency of publication. Go a week without sending in the check for your renewal and you hear about it real quick, but not so much as a note or e-mail from the editor telling how or why they are changing things. I really hate it when the media itself goes into ‘no comment’ mode. Hypocrites.

  • Sean

    Japhy Grant has been fired from EVERY publication he’s ever written for. Cybersocket, Instinct, Frontiers, IN, The Advocate…this site has lost all credibility due to his being named editor. This will be my last visit.

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