My friend David Badash - who I've only met via email - has written a terrific piece about the fate of LGBT news sites and blogs. He's jumping off a piece by Nikki Usher in the Harvard journalism site entitled "How niche is too niche? The case of gay news blogs."
For his piece - Gay News Sites: Will Your Favorite Still Be There Next Year? - David has collected comments from Usher, The Bilerico Project's Bil Browning, Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend on Firedoglake, Human Rights Campaign's Fred Sainz, Out magazine co-founder and Towleroad partner Michael Goff, AMERICABlog's John Aravosis, 365.com's Jennifer Vanesco, Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum News - and me. As some of you might suspect, I didn't stick with just a quote - I wrote something of a quick mini-history that David's going to post with me as a guest blogger tomorrow. But here's the quote he pulled for his piece:
I would not be able to pay the rent if I only blogged at LGBT POV. I have Google AdSense?-?but frankly, the ads are whatever Google sends down the pike?-?including ads for Rand Paul's tax plan. I have two friends who volunteer to help me and we've blocked some of the more atrocious ads. But for the most part, the ads only bring in "pennies." Like other bloggers, I have seriously considered crashing LGBT POV because I am so frustrated at not having the time to do the kinds of pieces I want to do?-?which is why I started the blog?--?while also covering news and writing for my main job and blogging there, as well. Let's just say I carry a packet of Low Dose Aspirin wherever I go.
The truth of the matter is that most of us in the LGBT media work our hearts out for love, not money. This is our contribution to the LGBT movement for liberation, justice and equal rights. I've worked in the mainstream media - I've often thought about going back simply for financial security. But working for the LGBT press, especially Frontiers which has a special place in my heart and in LA LGBT history – giving information to and telling stories about my community from a perspective that might otherwise be censored or elude even a sensitive straight writer – gives meaning to my life.
But am I – are we – a dying breed or is this just another media/technological cycle?
Here's the introduction to David's piece:
Is there a future for the gay news and politics sites and blogs that focus on and advocate for the LGBT community, or will we continue to see them consolidate?--?or just disappear? Why are so many gay news sites finding it so challenging to stay afloat? Are advertisers leery of being associated with distinctly gay sites? Are readers loyal and dedicated enough? Is this niche just too "niche?"
"Whether corporate- run or one- man shops, the outlook for gay news blogs is that most of them are not turning a satisfying profit," writes Nikki Usher, at Harvard's own niche journalism site, Neiman Journalism Lab, in an article last week, "How niche is too niche? The case of gay news blogs."
As a publisher in the same niche Usher profiled?--?LGBT news sites?--?I've certainly been feeling and experiencing many of the issues Usher's article brings up. Inconsistent advertising and few advertising network options. Lack of advertising support from LGBT organizations. And while readership at The New Civil Rights Movement is growing exponentially?--?a 481% increase in visits, per Google Analytics, year- to- date over last year?--?earning us kind words from the media, and a #34 ranking in the Technorati 100 for politics, like most journalists and bloggers, I'll confess to having to work very hard for each and every one of those.
Nikki Usher, a PhD and Assistant Professor at George Washington University, who wrote the Neiman Journalism article, says that gay news sites and blogs, "should be perfect illustrations of booming niche sites that can monetize off a predictable and loyal audience looking for news and information it can't find elsewhere," then lists four sites and four reasons why they are not.
The sites Usher chose, Logo's 365Gay .com, Bilerico, Queerty, and Pam's House Blend, all essentially decided to re- organize in some fashion, be it cutting staff, as in the case of Bilerico, or finding a larger publisher to manage the day- to- day challenges, like blogger Pam Spaulding did in housing Pam's House Blend under the renowned Firedoglake umbrella, to closing and re- emerging under a different owner, as Queerty did, or simply by, essentially, shutting down completely, as in the case of 365Gay, which will have some content published under different Logo- run businesses.
(Crossposted at LGBT POV)