‘People don’t read anymore, do they?’

My grief was short-lived; there was no time for it. Within hours, Laura Douglas-Brown and I began the conversation that simply asked the question, “what do we do now?” Haltingly, but assuredly, we reached the same conclusion. Atlanta must not be without an LGBT newspaper and media outlet.

Why? Hadn’t we made so much progress in the past few decades that we could get by just fine without one? Was it really necessary in 2010? After all, things are not like they were in 1988 or even 1995.

In the past we had a president who would not say the word “AIDS,” Jesse Helms and Jerry Falwell both running around spewing their vitriol and not one state that recognized gay marriage. And let’s face it, people just don’t read anymore, do they?

We knew two things for sure. LGBT rights have not been secured in spite of tremendous progress that has been made, and we could not leave the responsibility of reporting on the lives and concerns of our community to the mainstream media.

Mainstream media will never report on our community in any depth except for the occasional “big story.” They can’t report our stories and they can’t tell stories from a gay perspective. They can’t because they would lose readership if they did. They can’t be a gay paper because they are not a gay paper.

Laura Douglas-Brown (left) and Chris Cash, founders of The Georgia Voice
Georgia Voice founders Laura Douglas-Brown and Chris Cash (Photo by Project Q Atlanta)

Rumors abounded for a while that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was contemplating a gay “section” of their paper when SoVo shut down. If it was seriously considered at all, the motivation was financial. If there is one thing that has been completely embraced by the mainstream it’s the LGBT pocketbook.

What about the “people don’t read anymore” issue? Newspapers all over the country are struggling and many have failed. Reporting on the web was a given, but could we also make a print publication work? Could we stay afloat?

Yes, we decided, because the truth is that papers are not failing because people do not read anymore. They may read differently than they did in 1988, some on a website instead of on a printed page, but they still read. They might not devote as much time to reading as in the past, but they still read.

And if we managed ourselves well by creating an ethical and viable product, and staying true to our readers and advertisers, the Georgia Voice could be around for a very long time.

SoVo lasted for 22 years in spite of numerous challenges and roadblocks along the way. That is something to be proud of despite any criticism, warranted or unwarranted. I knew Laura and I could secure the same longevity for Georgia Voice when we began to put together our team. The staff — six out of seven formerly worked for SoVo — is highly experienced and shamelessly talented, the Board of Advisers is rock solid in their commitment, and our supporters are large in number and in heart.  An institution is only as good as the people who nurture it. In short: we cannot lose.

Age has a few perks, not many I admit, but a few. One of those perks is fearlessness. You simply do not care anymore if you appear foolish. So with no fear I say to all GaVo readers: Welcome to the best damn LGBT media outlet the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia has ever seen. Enjoy.

Publisher Chris Cash founded Southern Voice in 1988.