Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Advocating Change

As a fellow baby of 1967, I have a certain amount of built-in affection for the Advocate. Sure, its relevance has decreased precipitously in the last 10 years (hey, to hear the Atlantic tell it ALL PRINT MEDIA could be extinct by THIS May), but it was an instrumental part of my coming out, and I think it -- like its straight counterparts Time and Newsweek -- still has a place in the media landscape. So when its new editor in chief, Jon Barrett, announced at last year's NLGJA conference in Washington that the Advocate was going to rely on its Web site for breaking news and turn the print edition from bi-weekly to monthly with more in-depth coverage, it seemed like a logical step.
What's not so logical (or do I mean so logical as to be insulting?) is this nifty little insert that came in my latest issue, which kindly informs me that under the "new frequency" setup the Advocate .... um ... won't be ripping me off of the issues I already paid for. (Gee, thanks! Come on, Jon! Is THIS actually one of your selling points of your revamped magazine?!!!!)

What did make me happy, however, despite what some other (even bitchier) blogs are saying about it is the heavier paper stock the pub's now using. I don't care what anyone says, that crepe paper the Advocate's been using the last few years was just awful. The way the words bled through made it virtually impossible to read without the exact right lighting and it even felt gross to touch. (Kudos on that one, Jon!)

Now I haven't read the whole new issue yet (it looks and feels nice and there are lots of ads), but I had heard Jon say that the "new and improved" Advocate was going to steer away from the "celebrity-obsessed" culture (particularly straight ones) and get back to (gay) basics. This didn't make sense to me at the time because A) celebrities ARE gay basics and, B) how do you expect to make a fading publication more successful without celebrities when celebrities are the MAIN reason people buy magazines anymore? That said, a quick glance through the new year's first issue and I see the "world's biggest celebrity" is on the cover (OK, couldn't resist). And inside we have an article dissing Rachel "the best thing that's happened to cable news in a decade" Maddow and an interview with the very sexy (and VERY STRAIGHT) celebrity Chris Evans, and did I read somewhere your new columnist is a gay guy who was on a reality TV show? (HUH??) (Loved the "Rockbird" reference on Page 91, btw!)

Barrett does make a point of saying in his editor's letter that the new Advocate is a "work in progress." But from what I've seen so far, it looks awfully familiar to me. And while I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing (remember, I'm one of the ones who's still subscribing -- you're the one promising all this change), maybe the Atlantic was right.


Anonymous said...

What can you say about Chris, he's what dreams are made of. Nice to see a hot guy / actor who doesn't shave his chest.
His films are enjoyable, because of him. His most serious "Sunshine".
And then there's the Torch.

Matthew said...

Well, we all got our issues this week I guess—just posted my highlights at lunch. I basically liked the issue. I find Genre and Instinct unreadable, or even look-at-able anymore. Out still has some good stuff.

Oh, and you ARE gay. No dude DOES refer to another dude as "hot."

Patrick Whiteside said...

Kenneth, I don't get your beef with the Advocate here. It seems like you're talking out of mouth sides of your mouth.

I for one was happy to see that note explaining that I will get the same number of issues left on my subscription. If I were running the pub, I would have let everyone know that as well. It was a good customer service action.

You question why they would dial back the celebrity coverage considering that we gays like a bit of celebrity in our consumer diets. And then you criticize the short Chris Evans article.

Damned if they, damned if they don't on your watch.

Yeah, Evans is a straight celeb and I hope Advocate focus on out gay celebrities. But know and then there are straight celebrities that have gay followings. It's logical that Advocate would write a bit on Evans considering he not only has a gay following but a gay brother too that is trying to make a go at his own acting career. I just don't seem to find a major foul on that one.

As for print being extinct in the near future...that's just not gonna happen. We don't have the simple, portable, durable technology to replace magazines and newspapers as we are accustomed to using them.

E-paper devices require power. They do not support color. They have size limitations. They have a high cost of entry versus a quarter for the days paper.

People need to feel something in their hand...a rolled up paper or magazine tucked under the arm, coffee cup held in the hand as they walk to the office.

Yes, print media is in trouble. But it ain't dead. Living organisms aren't the only things that transform through evolution. The medium doesn't have to die to change. But everyone still likes to dig the graves.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Patrick --
It doesn't sound like you actually read what I wrote, but that's not unusual in Blogland. :-)

Let me try again: I found the notice about the subscription pointless because it was supposed to be "news" that if you had 12 issues left on your subscription you would now get 12 more issues. (You don't see why that's a stupid thing to say?! Why WOULDN'T I get 12 issues if I have 12 issues coming to me????)

And I mentioned that I was at an event at which the editor in chief was going ON AND ON about pulling away from celebrity stuff -- especially straight celebrities. Yet the new issue had Chris Evans, which is exactly the kind of straight interview they've always done. (I liked the interview too. That wasn't my point.) As I said, I don't have a problem with this -- I STILL SUBSCRIBE! But my point was this issue was exactly like all the previous years, to which I ALSO subscribed.

I agree that print isn't going to die completely. But if the premise of the EIC was reinvention to avoid extinction, then I was merely pointing out that if this is the Advocate's idea of "reinventing," then perhaps extinction is in the future.