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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



VIEWS The first draft of history
Windy City Times 30th anniversary issue
by Tracy Baim, Windy City Times

This article shared 3747 times since Wed Sep 23, 2015
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Journalism is said to be the first draft of history. For most of the LGBT movement's history, it has often been the only draft.

While much of the mainstream media now cover LGBT issues a lot better, this has come about at the same time those same media are laying off reporters and covering less and less of niche communities. Even at the pinnacle of coverage of our issues in their pages, the mainstream could only do a surface amount of coverage of any one community.

It is really up to LGBT regional media to make sure all aspects of our community are covered, from specific groups for people of color, to in-depth HIV coverage, transgender features, hate crimes, job discrimination, and profiles of those doing the heavy lifting in the LGBT movement—the volunteers, staff and funders.

But back in September 1985, when Windy City Times was founded, that role was even more critical.

In those days prior to the public Internet, the newspaper was the primary source of information for AIDS updates, protests, gay-rights lobbying news, and much more. There was always too much news to fit in print, so we had the difficult task of trying to summarize a vast amount of information in a weekly print issue. Thankfully, we now have the ability to post news instantly, so the weekly print newspaper can serve as a more finely curated set of stories.

We at Windy City Times are fortunate to be doing what we love for this community, some 30 years after we launched. With just 11 weekly LGBT newspapers left in the United States, it is not a given that any of us will be here in another 10, 20 or 30 years. We aggressively adapt to new technologies, but even keeping ahead of the game is no guarantee.

Those early pioneers at Windy City Times ranged from our typesetting team to reporters, editors, sales people, photographers and those all-important delivery drivers. Neither snow nor sleet nor blistering heat have kept these drivers from doing their jobs every week these past 30 years.

While I am the only original staffer left from that first WCT, many of those pioneers still lend their skills to our special projects and community events. There are hundreds of people who played critical roles in this paper since 1985, some of them who died within weeks or the early years after we were founded. I am grateful to them all, including those who allowed me to join them in co-founding WCT—Bob Bearden, Jeff McCourt and Drew Badanish. And those who helped me launch Outlines in 1987—especially Nan Schaffer and Scott McCausland.

I was very torn the day Bob, Jeff and Drew asked me to leave my post as managing editor of GayLife newspaper to join them as managing editor as Windy City Times. Bob and Jeff have both since passed away, and Drew left early on, but all of us were part of a very passionate team of dreamers.

Our current staff include several who have been with us full-time for more than a decade, in some cases two decades: Terri Klinsky, Jean Albright, Amy Matheny, Andrew Davis and Kirk Williamson, plus newer additions you will see listed in this issue. We also have some very longtime vendors who help make us what we are, including Martie Marro of Love Your Website who has been doing our site for 20 years, accountant Deb Murphy, David Schaefer and Steve MacIntosh of Equitek, and the printers Graphic Image and Topweb—which, as Newsweb, printed that very first issue of WCT.

Thank you for allowing me to be a journalist these past 31 years ( including that one year at GayLife ). I begrudgingly do the "publisher" thing to keep the company chugging along. But in my heart, I am the journalist I wanted to be when I was 10 years old and wrote my first family newsletters—and a kid's consumer column for the Chicago Defender ( where my mom was managing editor ). Being a journalist is all I ever wanted to be. And this community has allowed me that voice.

Come join us for a walk down memory lane at the Windy City Times 30th anniversary celebration Sunday, Sept. 27, at Sidetrack bar, 2-5 p.m. The suggested donation is $30 at the door. There will be "just desserts," from Tri-Star Catering, a performance by Sami Grisafe—who was born the year we were founded—plus lots of door prizes.

This article shared 3747 times since Wed Sep 23, 2015
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