Layout 1Being that I work at an LGBT newspaper that has seen a large drop off in advertising this year – at 36 pages an issue the paper is half the size as it used to be when I started at the Bay Area Reporter in 2001 – this guest opinion from this week’s issue of the Gay and Lesbian Times in San Diego caught my eye.

Called “Beyond the Briefs: It’s time to support businesses that support legitimate gay media,” Robert DeKoven, a professor at California Western School of Law, takes on local gay-owned businesses advertising not in the GLT but in another gay-focused publication with cheaper ad rates but no real newsroom.

“The Gay & Lesbian Times is San Diego’s only legitimate weekly newspaper serving the GLBT community, and it’s time to support businesses who advertise in it. Yes, there are other so-called GLBT papers in San Diego. But the GLT is the only one with a local newsgathering staff,” writes DeKoven. “In other words, only the GLT puts local GLBT news in context: Do other papers have columnists who offer expert opinion about the legal foundations and principle of hate crimes law and civil remedies? No. Do other papers feature veteran reporters, such as court reporter Neal Putnam, who interview the prosecutors and defense lawyers involved in such cases and provide synopses of the trials? Not.
“Instead, San Diego’s other “gay media” are mere advertising vehicles. They masquerade as news sources but, in reality, are stuffed with ads and canned stories. Yet they get the advertising dollars because their rates are cheaper. They can offer lower rates because they’re not out there pounding the pavement to get the scoops; investigating news stories first hand takes resources, and resources aren’t cheap.”

The column speaks to the argument many LGBT nonprofits are making here in the Bay Area and across the country: the businesses, groups and media that serve the LGBT community need LGBT people to patronize and support them to ensure their longevity.
It is a pretty simple notion but one many people do not adhere to. In fact, the San Francisco-based Horizons Foundation, an LGBT focused grant-giving and philanthropic agency, has found that 95 percent of LGBT people do not donate to LGBT groups.

While it is great that national newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post have the occasional gay-related news story on their front pages, it is often days or weeks after the story has already been covered by the gay press. And many stories in LGBT media never make it into mainstream papers, but they still have an impact nonetheless.

It would be a shame were the LGBT community’s papers to fold. They are and continue to be some of the loudest advocates for seeing that injustices toward LGBT people are addressed and our rights are advanced.
Glossy club rags may be fun to look at, but they just don’t have the same sort of voice.

As DeKoven writes in his opinion piece, “The GLBT community should understand that such junk gay media, the papers with the pretty boy covers week after week, aren’t doing this community any favors. Rather, they divert badly needed ad revenue that legitimate newsgathering organizations need.”