Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Guide to Suspend Print Publication in August; Another one bites the dust

See below for a press release issued by Pink Triangle Press today announcing The Guide travel magazine will cease print publication in August:

Pink Triangle Press (Toronto)
PRESS RELEASE
April 22, 2010
For immediate release

Guide magazine will cease print publication in August; move to web

publishing

Redesigned Guidemag.com a response to gay travelers' focus on web and

advertising demands

(Toronto) - Pink Triangle Press (PTP) today announced plans to migrate the

international gay travel publication Guide magazine from a print
publication to an internet-based publishing operation. A redesigned
GuideMag.com, focused exclusively on gay travel, will launch at the end of
May. The final print edition of Guide magazine, the August 2010 issue,
will roll off the press the third week of July.

For more than three decades, Guide magazine has been renowned for

providing gay male readers with a quirky blend of gay travel information,
culture and politics. The magazine's travel focus reached beyond North
America to include the most popular international destinations.
GuideMag.com is already a successful companion site to the magazine,
attracting 60,000 visitors each month.

"It's a strategic change in direction," says Brandon Matheson, Publisher

and Editor-in-chief. "Increasingly, gay men look to the web as their prime
source of travel information. As travel information providers, we need to
ensure that we remain relevant and that we stay connected to the dedicated
readership that Guide magazine has built over the past 30 years. Moving
beyond the barriers of a monthly print cycle, the new GuideMag.com will
ensure that we're connected with more readers, more often, with more
frequent content updates."

Phase one of the new GuideMag.com will provide in-depth travel features on

both popular and out-of-the-way destinations of interest to gay men, city
maps that highlight attractions of interest, event listings and listing
profiles on more than 10,000 gay- and gay-friendly businesses around the
globe. GuideMag.com is one of the largest databases of gay business
listings available on the web today.

"We've heard from many advertisers that the web is where they want to be.

Advertisers want to reach the largest possible audience of gay travelers,"
says Ken Hickling, advertising director for Guide magazine and
GuideMag.com. "Focusing both our efforts and resources on the development
of GuideMag.com will enable us to reach a much larger audience than we
could ever achieve in print."

The gay travel research firm Community Marketing Inc (CMI) has reported

that 2008-2009 tourism industry data collected by CMI and the US
Department of Commerce shows the annual impact of gay travel in the United
States to be approximately $70.3 billion. The most recent survey by the
Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce found the Canadian gay travel
market to be worth $9.4 billion annually.

Founded in 1971, Pink Triangle Press is Canada's leading gay and lesbian

media organization. In addition to Guide magazine and GuideMag.com, PTP
publishes the Xtra community newspapers in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver,
publishes fab magazine in Toronto, operates Xtra.ca, FabMagazine.com,
Squirt.org, Cruiseline and Hard TV, co-produces the international
gay-travel TV show Bump, and is co-owner of Out TV. PTP purchased Guide
magazine and GuideMag.com from the Boston-based Fidelity Publishing in
August 2006.


Unfortunately, Pink Triangle Press's (PTP) announcement comes as no surprise to me. With the re-design of the PTP published Xtra tabloid in Toronto and the closure of Capital Xtra's Ottawa offices (the Ottawa edition of Xtra is now compiled in Toronto - to my knowledge PTP doesn't have any staff left in Ottawa except perhaps for freelance writers and photographers) PTP is beginning to shrink its' operations.

Pink Triangle Press began as The Body Politic (TBP) a radical gay newspaper founded in the early 1970s' and governed until 1986 by a non-hierarchical collective. Founding members of TBP's collective included Hugh Brewster, Jearld Moldenhauer and others. Ken Popert, who arrived after the collective had formed and several issues had been published, would rise to become President & Executive Director of PTP's board.

Today PTP is a small GLBT focused media empire. Popert's not-for-profit organization actually turned a healthy profit for years through Cruiseline, a press-owned male for male phone sex line, and Squirt.org, an online cruising and hookup forum. Besides publishing the Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver editions of Xtra, Toronto's Fab Magazine and The Guide, PTP is also a managing partner in Out TV, a queer themed Canadian television station.

Needless to say there's no more gravy train for traditional media outlets. The changes PTP has made to its' publications are probably only a start. The re-designed Toronto Xtra is a slimmer publication with short news stories where long features once prevailed. Fab Magazine is regularly starved for intelligent, engaging cover stories and is a shadow of what it was under former Editor-in-Chief Mitchel Raphael. And now The Guide is ceasing publication period for all intents and purposes. I anticipate the magazine's online content will be recycled from PTP's other publications, allowing the press to save money by laying off The Guide's staff. A sad day for journalism and The Guide's staff and contributors.

Two years ago when I was still completing my Bachelor of Journalism at Ryerson University I wrote a long essay on PTP as an end of term assignment; I had interned in Xtra's Toronto office for a couple months. I will publish that piece as soon as I've posted this entry.

During my internship I became close friends with one of The Guide's writers who was stationed in Toronto. I'm sure that closing down The Guide's print publication was a money saving measure of the last resort, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth all the same.

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