The Road to the NLGJA Hall of Fame

By Mark Segal (Publisher, Philadelphia Gay News)

What surprised me most at the National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association annual convention in Boston last week was the concern for print media.

Granted, print media is having a hard time at present; it doesn’t know how to monetize its online material and print circulations are on the decline. So, that led me, at the last minute, to completely change my acceptance speech for my induction into the NLGJA Hall of Fame.

First, to give some perspective to audience members who didn’t know me, I detailed my activism background. Those of you who have read this column regularly know that the timeline went: Stonewall, Gay Liberation Front New York, the founding of Gay Youth, disruptions of “CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite … then the founding of PGN.

PGN Masthead

I first told them of our early days in which we put up with bombed vending boxes, vandals destroying our office, only having one IBM Selectric typewriter and using press type for headlines. We even had The Thunderbolt, the nation’s white supremacist magazine, put us on their hit list. No journalism organizations allowed us to join (now I sit on their boards).

Then to give them optimism, I explained that PGN now owns its own building, equipment, all our bills and taxes are paid to date and we employ a full-time staff of 14 with full benefits. That is success in print media.

Then the important part — how did we become so strong? It’s a simple formula, at least to me. A strong business department that makes the funds to hire award-winning journalists to put out not an LGBT newspaper, but the highest-quality journalistic newspaper that serves the LGBT community. It was easy to explain that. PGN is the most-awarded LGBT publication in the nation. Yes, I said that with some of the other publishers present.

Stories that readers can get only in your newspaper bring readers, so publications shouldn’t be afraid of controversy and strong opinion pieces, and allowing those who disagree with you to do so in your letters to the editor or in op-ed pieces. But the most important is investigative reporting. Here I recalled Tim Cwiek’s 10-year saga on the Nizah Morris case, which prompted a new report by the city’s Police Advisory Commission, and rule changes at the Philadelphia Police Department. No other paper that I know of would put the resources into such a story for so long.

Hard news and features keep you relevant. We were out front on the Boy Scouts and the city’s decade-long battle with that group began in our pages, while we also covered the dangers of pumping parties, requesting a reporter to spend a night on the streets with homeless gay youth.

Media has changed and print must embrace and innovate. I explained that we have partnerships with philly.com and Philadelphia Business Journal, the first such partnership in the nation. Our work with the Philadelphia Multi-Cultural News Network, which not only allows PGN to work with a full range of diverse publications but has helped more than 20 newspapers, making Philly a vibrant, diversified newspaper city.

I had much more I could have added, but my time limit was running out. My desire was to bring new ideas and optimism, and I believe I succeeded.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com. This article was originally published on epgn.com.

Do Values = Profit?

By Michael Tune, NLGJA executive director

I recently attended a session of the NLGJA monthly webinars, entitled “Follow Your Inner Leader” with leadership coach and journalist Robert Naylor. The session was fascinating, and reminded me of some of the core skills it takes to differentiate between managing a situation and leading a situation.

Robert included in his discussion a push for creating core values for one’s self. What ideas, for example, best reflect what is important to me? As I answered that question on my notepad, I began to notice differences in marketable core values and non-marketable core values. Robert promised we could write him one-on-one and ask questions, and so I asked him about it.

He responded, “Core values are essential to doing business in an ethical way and they really should be part of every process. However, they are commodity only in that they form the basis of how we do business, not what we do to make money.”

Robert went on to compare the dilemma to opening a coffee shop. “[John Doe] could decide to sell fair trade organic coffees in what otherwise looks like a gallery space in which local artists are allowed to exhibit. The furniture could be refurbished from salvage yards because he doesn’t want to contribute to the carbon footprint by purchasing new items. [Values] could form the basis of how he treats employees, making sure they are treated and paid fairly, and the way he greets customers. In that sense, he would not be just selling coffee, he would be selling his ideals.”

Robert recommended not abandoning our core values in order to make a profit, but rather incorporating them into “something tangible” and “make them the foundation of [your] business practices.”

The truth is, we can’t always turn our passions into profit. Making enough money to eat is important, but it’s just as important we make enough money to eat for tomorrow and the next day and the next (that retirement is calling).

What I learned from Robert is that I can still incorporate my personal passions and core values into my work, without necessarily sacrificing my future.

If you are itching to learn something new yourself, join us for the next one. The NLGJA webinar series is free for members.

Jen Christensen Affirmed New NLGJA President

ChristensenThe National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Board of Directors has affirmed Jen Christensen of CNN as its new president, succeeding the late Michael Triplett. Following the rules of the NLGJA bylaws, Christensen will serve the remainder of the term, through the 2014 convention.

Since 2009, Christensen has served as NLGJA’s vice president for broadcast.  She previously served on NLGJA’s board of directors for three terms, as president of the Georgia and Carolinas chapters and as the founding president of the Kentucky chapter.

A writer and producer with CNN.com, Christensen previously worked as an investigative producer/documentarian in CNN’s Special Investigations Unit, where she won the Peabody and DuPont awards, among other top prizes, as a producer for Christiane Amanpour’s God’s (Jewish) Warriors. She also produced the award-winning MLK’s Words That Changed a Nation; Black in America: Eyewitness to Murder; Obama Revealed; Sarah Palin Revealed; Christiane Amanpour’s Generation Islam, and several breaking-news documentaries.

Before joining CNN, Christensen ran investigative units at WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and WTVQ-TV in Lexington, KY

Christensen holds a bachelor’s degree in TV/Radio and politics from Butler University and also attended the London School of Economics, where she studied foreign policy and economics.

“While I take on this role under extremely sad circumstances, I hope to carry on Michael’s important legacy of thoughtful leadership,” she said. “I look forward to echoing his passion to seek fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues in the media and to continue to help create more inclusive newsrooms for LGBT journalists.”

Michael Triplett, 1964-2013

Triplett_Michael_0It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and leader, NLGJA President Michael Triplett, passed away today after a courageous battle with cancer.

While Michael only served as president for a few short months, he has been a member of our leadership team for several years, first as a Washington, D.C. chapter board member and president and then as a national board member and vice president for print. His quiet demeanor masked a steely resolve and an uncanny ability to push our organization forward. Michael quickly became someone who could be relied on both to provide sage advice as well as the time and energy to help us accomplish our goals.

Michael was the assistant managing editor at Bloomberg-BNA, where he used his legal background to develop and lead reports on tax and labor policy, as well as grooming journalists around the world. NLGJA members often called on Michael to provide a legal perspective to policy issues and governance, and he frequently sat on panels covering legal issues at NLGJA conventions.

Michael played an enormous role in our joining UNITY: Journalists for Diversity in 2011 and was one of our first representatives to the UNITY board. There, he worked with members of our partner groups to fully incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into UNITY’s mission.

He also helped our organization connect with members as a principle contributor to the NLGJA RE:ACT blog.

Michael was truly a joy for all of us to work with, and his loss will be felt among our organization for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner, Jack and his family in Alabama.

The NLGJA board will meet in the coming days to elect an interim president, as well as to determine the best way to honor Michael’s memory. But for now, we pause to remember our friend and an enormous contributor to our recent growth and success.

The Randy Shilts Award for LGBT Coverage

Washington, D.C. - As part of a new annual event, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association will be presenting the NLGJA Randy Shilts Award for LGBT Coverage. The award is designed to honor journalists who consistently bring stories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to life in mainstream media outlets. The award honors individual journalists and news organizations who go the extra mile to ensure that all Americans are aware of the diversity within the LGBT community, as well as the unique struggles gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people face in the United States and around the world.

The 2012 NLGJA Randy Shilts Award for LGBT Coverage will be presented to NPR’s Michel Martin. The host of “Tell Me More,” Martin has consistently lived up to her program’s title with her coverage of the LGBT community, going beyond the headlines to ask deeper questions – from whether gay marriage might lead to legal polygamy to how gay and lesbian people are reshaping African American and Latino activism. Her regular series exploring “private lives” has brought her listeners voices few have heard before – including persecuted gay men in Africa, people living with HIV and AIDS on Indian reservations and transgender athletes chasing Olympic glory.

This award is named in memory of Randy Shilts, a member of the NLGJA Hall of Fame, who is widely credited with being the first reporter to cover the “gay beat” for a major metropolitan newspaper. His writing in the San Francisco Chronicle brought the stories of gays and lesbians – whether they were living with AIDS or serving in the military – to the attention of millions of Americans. Before his death in 1994, Shilts authored three best-selling books, including the groundbreaking And the Band Played On, cataloguing the rise of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The award will be presented at DATELINE-DC, a benefit for NLGJA on Nov. 13, 2012 in Washington, D.C. For more information and tickets, visit www.nlgja.org/dateline-dc.