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When I took over as publisher of this newspaper, I knew that it was not on solid financial footing. In fact, Terry Sidie, our former publisher, even warned me about the paper’s financial losses, and some serious concerns he had with the paper and a grant the paper had received without his prior knowledge.
Those statements quickly sobered me up to the reality and task that lay ahead for me. I knew that keeping this paper going was not going to be an easy task. And like any other business, I knew it would take time and dedication.
What we didn’t know at the time, however, was the gravity of the situation, and how poorly the paper’s prior managing staff had left it — not just in its funding streams, but also with challenges in succession planning, grant management, and financial recovery coming out of COVID-19.
We have since learned and have had to alert some of our affected advertisers, our grant funders, and others, that the paper’s circulation and readership numbers were willingly, knowingly, and purposefully falsified by staff. In addition to inflating the circulation numbers, we have learned that many of the deliverables that the paper was contracted to meet, were not made — forcing us to delve into a significant audit of the funding the paper received through a grant earlier this year, and what we learned is, potentially, we may be forced to repay some of it back.
This is not something I take delight in reporting.
All this has put the paper in a challenging position, where we now must ask our community for support as we explore a way forward in order to continue publishing. We are in serious danger of going out of print.
I know this open letter to our community may be shocking to some. Believe me when I say it is difficult to reach out with one hand and ask for help, while with our other, let our community know that some among our prior staff wronged the advertisers, the grant funders, the former publisher, and the associate publisher.
What does this mean for our community? During times of crisis, celebration, and mourning, crucial information about our community comes from local reporters and writers. Access to high quality information is essential. Especially local information. And especially now. What’s happening in our communities? How are our local leaders responding? For answers to these questions, we rely on the hard work of our local journalists and writers.
We know that due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and uncertain economic times, most local news publications are losing money, fast. Advertising has plummeted during these ongoing crises and readers aren’t subscribing fast enough to fill the void. And just as our society faces numerous, urgent challenges, thousands of local reporters are being laid off — including at many LGBTQ+ publications across the state and nation.
Times are challenging. LGBTQ+ Americans are under attack. Our community is the target of legislative bills seeking to ban or restrict: gender-affirming health care for transgender youth; LGBTQ+ history; public displays of the Rainbow Pride Flag; access to medical care; access to bathrooms; drag shows; and more. Violent attacks against our businesses, including gun violence is happening, including here in San Diego. Thousands of people — including our neighbors, friends, and family, are in danger of losing access to the authoritative local information they need to stay informed.
In a recent San Diego Union Tribune OpEd, a local LGBTQ leader recently reminded our community that we need to be able to tell our own stories and that we need a space to do that.
I whole-heartedly agree with them, but I will take it further in reminding our community that we do have a space where we can and do tell our own stories –– through our own LGBTQ+ newspaper. That space is here — LGBTQ San Diego County News.
That is why as publisher, I am working with a local team of dedicated writers, graphic designers, photographers, printers, and small businesses to build a strong future for local LGBTQ journalism. It’s why you now see local businesses and nonprofits with a renewed interest in our advertising packages. They understand that the state of democracy and civic engagement only works with informed communities. And they understand that help needs to come from many sources, including civic leaders, local and national foundations, local businesses, and our community members themselves. But those actions aren’t enough.
Please consider supporting LGBTQ San Diego County News. We are one of just a handful of California based LGBTQ+ newspapers that are still in print. Donate. Subscribe. And if you have a business or an organization that’s able to, Advertise with us. Your support is critical to sustaining the dedicated journalists serving our communities.
Our local LGBTQ newspaper helps keep us safer. We keep an eye on city hall, on corruption, and shady business practices — including being transparent about the issues facing our paper and how we ended up in this position.
As publisher of this paper, I want you — our community, our advertisers, and our subscribers – to know that we have corrected and updated our circulation numbers, are working to resolve and meet some of the deliverables that this paper was under contract to meet through the grant that was received before I took over, and in discussions with our legal team on how to best resolve and report on the issues that have endangered our publication.
You have my word that in the coming weeks and months we will share more information as it becomes available to us. and that I will do my best to help ensure that this publication can continue to print. I want you to know that we have a team of talented staff and editors that are putting in the time and effort to build up this paper and to provide our community with local and relevant news, and a space to tell our own stories.
Please subscribe, donate, and advertise. With your help, together we can ensure our local news is covered for years to come.
*LGBTQ San Diego County News’ donation platform supported through FundJournalism.org, a program of The News Revenue Hub Inc, which helps news organizations learn how to design and implement subscriber recruitment programs, analyze data and develop company messaging and story. News organizations also learn how to utilize various technology applications, how to design campaign templates, graphics, and other corporate membership pages. The News Revenue Hub aims to fortify the public’s access to quality journalism by helping News organizations build sustainability
**Donations, gifts, and/or contributions to LGBTQ San Diego County News are not tax deductible and will help our news organization pay for print and distribution costs, software, design, and wages/stipends for our writers and contributors, including our editing staff.
***Messaging was also developed with support from the Google News Initiative, the Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium—which together represent more than 5,000 news outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Together they launched the “Support Local News” campaign across a breadth of local outlets that includes media organizations of color. This effort raises awareness of the difficulties facing local news providers across a diversity of communities, and encourages more advertising, subscriptions and donations to fund local newsrooms.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and hope you will also consider supporting our independent news organization. LGBTQ San Diego County News is one of California’s last LGBTQ print newspapers. But we are in danger of going out of print. During times of crisis, celebration, and mourning, crucial information about our community comes from local reporters and writers. LGBTQ San Diego County News needs your help and support in order to continue printing.
Please consider supporting LGBTQ+ San Diego County News. We are one of just five California based LGBTQ+ newspapers that are still in print. Donate. Subscribe. And if you have a business that’s able to, advertise with us. Your support is critical to sustaining the dedicated journalists serving our communities.
Our local LGBTQ+ newspaper helps keep us safer. We keep an eye on city hall, on corruption, and shady business practices. Together we can ensure our local news is covered for years to come.
-Eddie Reynoso, Publisher