Throughout Palm Springs and the greater Coachella Valley in southern California a new LGBT publication hit the streets today (Thursday, April 5).
The fact that the new monthly magazine Desert Outlook exists at all in today’s downsizing print media environment is itself astonishing. Even more remarkable, though, is it marks what is believed to be the first time a mainstream news outlet is publishing a glossy aimed at the LGBT community.
It is the brainchild of the Gannet-owned Desert Sun and is being helmed by editor Will Dean, who has been with the daily newspaper four years overseeing several of its weekly newspapers. Dean’s leadership of the LGBT magazine is itself noteworthy, as he is one of the few people of color editing a general interest gay news publication.
This past Sunday Desert Sun Executive Editor Greg Burton announced the launch of the LGBT magazine in an editor’s note in the daily paper:
It has been four years since 1,200 gay couples married in legal ceremonies around the Coachella Valley.
During those five months, before California rescinded that right, Palm Springs and its sister cities celebrated what many who’ve visited here for decades know to be true: We are diverse and proud.
This week, The Desert Sun will join the party by introducing Desert Outlook, a new magazine for the Coachella Valley and southern California that covers the LGBT community.
Desert Outlook will hit the street — you’ll find it in free distribution across the valley — with a mission to celebrate the people who help “define southern California, our world and the future by living proudly and openly.”
The magazine is crafted to be like nothing that exists here today.
“Desert Outlook meets a significant need in this community — thoughtful, stylish and sophisticated coverage,” Desert Sun Media Group President and Publisher Mark J. Winkler said. “I am pleased that we can deliver relevant content to an important segment of our community.”
Desert Outlook Editor Will Dean and I spent months debating the stories that should inhabit the magazine, discussing tone and vibe.
In a brief phone interview for the RE:ACT blog, Dean said the publication will be a mix of news and culture coverage focused primarily on the local LGBT community and surrounding environs. One contributor is NLGJA member Hank Plante, who landed an interview with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for the first issue.
“We want to focus on local people mainly,” said Dean. “A lot of times publications that are entertainment driven talk about people who come here to perform. We have a lot of people who live here from all over the world, who come here whether to retire, vacation, or create their dream life, who are themselves newsworthy.”
While the Desert Sun covers LGBT issues, it does not have a designated reporter whose beat it is to write about the LGBT community. The idea for an LGBT-centric publication had been kicking around for a while, said Dean, and came to fruition after an executive change-over at the Desert Sun a year ago.
It is a smart business move on the newspaper’s part, said Dean, considering LGBT people account for a majority of Palm Spring’s population by some estimates.
“We are in a very unique situation and location here. Palm Springs is 40 to 60 percent LGBT. That is a huge market for a publication like this,” said Dean.
The coverage is a mix of freelancer articles and stories filed by Sun staffers. The initial press run is 10,000 copies, and next week, Dean plans to have the second issue for May ready to go to print. New editions will arrive the first Thursday of the month.
“The general consensus is it is the right time and people are really excited,” said Dean.