The pile-on of the management of the Advocate continues with a blistering–and self-congratulatory–piece in the Huffington Post by the Advocate‘s former editor-in-chief Judy Wieder. Feeding off the rumor–unchallenged by Regent Media–that the Advocate will no longer be a stand-alone magazine, Wieder excoriates the current leadership at Regent Media.
What the f happened? What would turn a magazine that was so important even ten years ago that every serious news media in the world turned to it for back-up sourcing when covering gay issues? A magazine that was such a desirable icon in the community it gave its then owners, LPI Media, the resources to buy/rescue its nearly bankrupt competition, Out. A magazine that not only reported on, analyzed, and clarified the nonstop information that sites like its own advocate.com coughed up relentlessly, but actually made the news. Stories that appeared in the magazine became the news event itself.
Wieder heaps blame on Aaron Hicklin, editorial director of LPI Media which includes Out and the Advocate (although she can’t seem to spell his name right despite having hired him to helm Out) and says that his focus on gay men has hurt the Advocate‘s brand. She is critical of the current cover story–on what straight men think of gays in the context of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell–saying “OMG. I’m surprised the publication is even going to be a pamphlet for while. In what universe is this a timely story? And, please note how seductive this is for gay women–a demographic Regent Media has killed off completely.”
Wieder was controversial when she ran the Advocate. Her push to the mainstream was widely criticized–along with her focus on celebrity news and perceived lack of criticism of LGBT elite organizations–by many inside and outside the LGBT media. She was described as difficult to work for and was often fodder for gossip pages and bloggers.
Still, Wieder says there’s room for a robust Advocate.
Although I would be the first to say that the times have changed since the high drama of the early AIDS epidemic or outing or frightened advertisers venturing into gay publications, I do not believe the essential reason for The Advocate is over. LGBTs still don’t have all their rights and they won’t for a long time. But lecturing about that is a bore. Someone once said teaching people about good and evil won’t get you much of a congregation, but telling them a good story like Noah’s Ark, works well.
You need raw facts, truths, great photo journalism, current people and events that everyone is dying to learn more about–and then you need the vision and creativity it takes to draw in what’s essential for the story (a person, an interview, a lost clue, a new piece of research) and you need the courage to deliver it! It saddens me to think that when I worked for The Advocate the one thing I always had going for any story we did was the power and the reputation of The Advocate. Often that convinced someone to talk to us, tell us something they’d told no one else. I fear that is no longer true. For many reason, some I’ve mentioned, some I won’t talk about here, some I know nothing about, our friend and hero, The Advocate, has been badly bashed.
UPDATE: Huffington Post has pulled Wieder’s original column and replaced it with a new version where Hicklin isn’t mentioned by name. It’s largely a different argument than what was originally placed on the website, with new points. Very odd.