As newspapers of all genres grapple with how to address – and monetize – reader movement online, the issue can be particularly vexing for LGBT media.
Weekly newspapers especially struggle with how to balance coverage in their print editions and on their Web sites. Some papers, such as the Washington Blade, will post stories immediately to their site and run the same article in that week’s printed edition.
Other publications, such as the Bay Area Reporter, frown on such duplication of coverage. Rather, articles posted on the Web do not appear in the printed edition of the paper.
Like their mainstream counterparts, LGBT papers largely make their money off the printed product and not from their Web sites. So it is essential that readers continue to have a reason to pick up the weekly issue and not just read the Web site in order to retain and attract advertisers.
How to juggle placement of articles online and off will continue to vex LGBT newsrooms as LGBT readers increasingly turn to online sources for their news. And rather than having to compete in their media markets with mainstream outlets – many of which have reduced staffing and eliminated dedicated LGBT beats – the LGBT press is finding itself competing online more and more with blogs.
A new study released this week points to how the Internet is changing LGBT readers’ habits. The national survey conducted by Harris Interactive® found that a small majority of gay and lesbian adults online today are reading blogs.
More than half (55%) of gay and lesbian respondents reported reading some type of blog, compared with only 38% of heterosexuals, found the survey. The finding represents a small increase from March 2008 when 51% of gay and lesbian respondents reported reading some type of blog. A similar question was asked in November 2006 and only 32% of gay and lesbian adults then reported reading blogs.
The survey found that 34% of gay and lesbian adults online reported reading news and current issue blogs, compared with 22% of heterosexual adults. The poll also found that a quarter (25%) of gay and lesbian adults also read entertainment and pop culture blogs, compared with 15% of heterosexuals.
And 28% of gay and lesbian adults are reading political blogs, compared with 23% of GLBT adults doing so in March 2008. Harris found that only 14% of heterosexual adults read political blogs.
LGBT adults also are more likely to use social networking sites like Myspace, Facebook and LinkedIn than heterosexual adults, found the survey.
The online survey of 3,000 adults (ages 18 and over) included 2,451 people who indicated they are heterosexual and 404 self-identified as gay or lesbian. (Harris said that was an over-sample of lesbian or gay adults).
As Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, points out in a release about the survey, “As companies work to make the most of their advertising budgets in the current economic climate, blogs and social networking sites are an even more powerful cross-section of opportunities today when reaching out to this market.”
And that is probably not music to the ears of publishers of LGBT newspapers.