While many NLGJA members work in the LGBT press, for others I think it is an area that is easy to take for granted. I always try to pick up the local newspaper or magazine to see what kind of coverage is out there and, of course, what I shouldn’t miss.
Over at the Out Front Blog created by PR giant Fleishman–Hillard, Ben Finzel has interviewed two big names in the LGBT media world and gotten some interesting insights on their work and how they feel the mainstream media covers LGBT issues.
There are some stories that get universal coverage by all; marriage in Iowa is an example. The mainstream covered that as it happened, as it should. The LGBT media cover that kind of story in much deeper ways. That gives our readers a context for why things happen, and why they continue to happen. Someone reading just the mainstream may have been shocked to learn about that happening, but our readers would have had years of coverage related to marriage that set the stage for the recent successes (and setbacks). We will have many more follow-up stories on marriage, and explore it on a deeper level.
There are hundreds of stories the mainstream does not cover within the LGBT community. Maybe once every few years they cover LGBTs in sport, for example, but every week in Windy City Times you see LGBT athletes in our community, whether in gay leagues or in mainstream sports. Same with entertainment, the bars, culture, etc. The mainstream will do some coverage, and more frequently now does include gays in coverage of, for example, a home and design issue. But they just do not have the space or access to do the kind of depth a weekly gay newspaper, with a Web site updated daily, can do.
Ben also talked to Kevin Naff of the Washington Blade. Kevin talked about the challenges of covering news for both a local audience and a national (and international) audience drawn to the Blade because of its place in the Nation’s Capitol.
The Blade is unique in that we have two distinct audiences: a local print readership and a national (and international) online readership.
Our local readers are looking for City Council coverage, local A&E events, etc., while our online readers come to us because of the Blade’s reputation for covering national politics, the White House, Congress, Supreme Court and more. You’d be surprised at how many IP addresses we see from places like Iraq, Kuwait and other international hotspots where the U.S. military is active. There are thousands of closeted service members and many of them check the Blade site for news on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
We work hard to balance our responsibilities to those two audiences. It sometimes means we can’t cover something that’s happening overseas because an important local story needs our attention. I wish we had the resources to devote more coverage to international issues, because the plight of foreign LGBT people is woefully underreported.