We here at PGN think of breaking news as a fickle friend; some weeks it trickles in at a molasses-like pace, and other weeks it pounds on the door with the fury of a hurricane. This week was the latter — which got us thinking about the evolution of media, and LGBT media in particular.
As we prep for our 40th-anniversary issue next month, the PGN staff has been scouring every issue from the past four decades and coming up with some interesting finds. Among the major differences between our earliest issues and today’s PGN is the pace of the news cycle: The publication was a monthly for its first two years and a biweekly for four years after that. At that time, though, the news wouldn’t get stale in the lag between editions because few other outlets were covering LGBT issues. Even if a story developed 10 days previously, it would still be fresh and new to audiences of the 1970s and ’80s, who had little access to LGBT coverage — and certainly fair or accurate coverage — in the mainstream media.
Fast-forward to this week: Among the breaking-news stories we encountered as we readied for production were an arrest in the murder of a trans woman, a court development in the case of a woman arrested in a gay bashing and the filing of the first EEOC lawsuit regarding sexual-orientation discrimination. It’s been a busy week for local LGBT news — but we weren’t the only ones working on these stories; all of them were also covered by mainstream organizations. In PGN’s early days, these developments may not even have gotten a mention in mainstream news or, if they did, the reporting likely would have been tainted with homophobia or transphobia. Now, however, LGBT news is no longer on the fringe and, thanks to the immediacy of the Internet, is unfettered in its reach.
That shift has made us at PGN recommitted to our mission, which remains the same as it was in 1976: providing high-quality journalism about the issues impacting the local LGBT community. Even though the ways we have covered the news have changed over the last four decades — we’ve learned to balance breaking news with our roots as a print publication — our unique vantage point of reporting community news from inside that community has not changed.