When long time local LGBT newspaper Just Out abruptly announced that it would cease publication last December it came as a shock. But many people in the community (including us) have come forward to make sure local queer news and events are still covered. So it was, perhaps, an even bigger shock when it was announced this Tuesday that Just Out was making a comeback. It seems like many plans are still in the works but qPDX had a chance to ask new publisher Jonathan Kipp of Glenn-Kipp Publishing, well known for starting Portland Bride and Groom magazine, some questions about bringing the 30 year old news source back to life.
qPDX: What prompted you to take over Just Out and when did you decide to do so? Why do you feel it’s important to continue this publication with the same name?
Jonathan Kipp: I’ve wanted to be the Publisher of Just Out since I walked into the Just Out office many years ago as a freelancer. And over the years I’ve asked if Just Out was for sale a few times. It wasn’t because it was a thriving publication. When that changed I reached out to express my concern. And then I shared my vision about how I thought our community could keep Just Out. The rest is history.
This publication is important to our community – both the LGBT and straight community. It’s part of our local history. It’s an icon. It’s part of thousands and thousands of personal stories. Look at the outpouring of support and grief on-line when Just Out made the announcement to cease publishing last December. It was heart warming- and heart-breaking. People literally gained courage to be themselves with the help of words and photos on paper. That’s powerful. Just because we live in a more accepting time, in an age of Modern Family and out politicians, the struggle hasn’t gone away. People — whether they are 18 or 55 — still are travelling the road to personal acceptance. Alone is alone. Just Out has and will continue to be there for them.
Beyond that Just Out is a meeting place for a lot of people. Our goal is to make that place even better. I hope it is a place where people will come to learn, to get angry, to be entertained, to have their hearts warmed — a place where they see themselves in the collective mirror that is Just Out.
q: Why do you believe your publishing company is the right one for the job? How do you see Glenn-Kipp reinvigorating the Just Out brand?
JK: In the world of entertainment periodically it is time for a reinvention. There was nothing wrong with Just Out last December. But it is just time for a change. I see Just Out continuing with the same heart and soul but repackaged in way that is more contemporary. There are a lot of talented people in Portland who could do this. Why me? Fate. That’s all I can chalk this up to. It’s true. I have been a profitable publisher. I could look at Just Out and know immediately what the business problems were and what the solution is. But there are many people smarter than me who could have done the same thing given the opportunity. I don’t often say this but some things are just meant to be.
How to you see Just Out fitting into this constantly changing landscape of local queer media? Will it be a different fit than the “old” Just Out? How?
The basics of Just Out will remain the same: news, opinions, interviews, features, reviews, columns, etc. But I’m hoping that the revitalized Just Out will have a stronger voice — a consistent voice. That said, the biggest changes will be in style. My vision for Just Out is a less cluttered, simple magazine that one can sit down with and be informed and entertained. I have no delusions that we can satisfy every member of the community. We are a big and diverse crowd. That would be unrealistic. But we can produce something that a lot of people will love to read and spend time looking at. That we can deliver on.
Do you plan to work with other media outlets either local or national? If so, how?
We have no plans at this time to partner with any other media outlets. It doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen though. One step at a time…
What has been your involvement with Just Out in the past? Will any former contributors or other players be involved in 2.0?
I wrote for Just Out for about two years. I was a regular contributor for a time and then when their news editor took a job in New York City I stepped up into the full-time spot. It was some of the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. I loved observing the community and reporting on the news and issues of that time. I met so many people — really interesting and complex people. I loved being a reporter for Just Out!
We will be looking at everyone who has something to say. I think there will be much more opportunity for people to contribute to Just Out than ever before. This is the community’s paper not Glenn-Kipp Publishing, Inc.’s paper. To that end, we welcome everyone to start thinking about what they can offer: personal stories, columns, opinions, artwork, etc.
When to you plan to relaunch? Web? Print? Will your print version follow the same bi-weekly schedule?
We will first bring back JustOut.com. That should be relatively soon. And then we’ll begin to put our team together and finalize our business plan and return to print. Just Out will be a monthly publication. As soon as I know when the premier issue will hit the streets…you’ll know. Like we did in the past, we’ll surround ourselves with bright, talented, energetic people who love to show up and do a great job. Our job is to keep the lights on. That’s where we are headed. A re-launch is not easy. But we are excited to put our thumbprint on Just Out and be a part of its history. Digital-age or not…Just Out will be here many years from now. I have no doubt.
Do you have any special web only content in the works? Any new special sections or projects?
Any other announcements on the horizon or other tidbits our readers might like to know?
One thing I want people to know is that Just Out has always been supported by its advertisers even through the recession. This says a lot about our advertisers and the community. The business model was what was suffering. That’s all. I’d hate for anyone to think that the community – gay and straight – didn’t step up and support Just Out. It did. It always has.
Publishing is a business. As much as some publishers and editors want to give back to the community (and they have and they do) the most important thing is to stay in business. That’s why so many publications are folding. They are failing to quickly adapt. It’s not because businesses don’t want to advertise and put their own brands and companies in front of our large and influential audience.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge former publisher Marty Davis. She gave a lot. She is bit of a controversial character, no? But as I’ve come to know her a bit more I have come to understand that she truly gave it her all. And not a lot of people in this world do that. Thanks Marty for everything you’ve contributed to Just Out and to our communities — big and small.