First on-campus LGBT magazine discovers upstart difficulties
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community at Syracuse University will be publishing its first magazine. But the intended audience stretches past any niche.
‘The Out Crowd’ is set to be released Monday, Jan. 28 and will be directed toward an audience beyond the LGBT community. The founders plan to appeal to allies, family and friends of the community and anyone interested in the magazine.
‘We did not want a big rainbow on the front that is going to inhibit other people from picking it up,’ said founder Brandon Miller. ‘We feel other people can become educated about certain issues that do not directly affect them.’
Jennifer Jackson, co-founder of the magazine and graduate student in magazine, newspaper and online journalism (MNO), has been learning the ropes of introducing a new publication.
‘Starting a magazine is hard, and it is a lot of work, and it can be daunting and frustrating,’ Jackson said.
In her 10 years at Syracuse University, Melissa Chessher, director of the MNO program, said she has never before seen graduate students launch a publication, attributing the deficit to their limited stay on campus. It takes a while to scope the media landscape and the audience to be represented, she said.
Miller’s sexual orientation, coupled with a passion for journalism, led him to realize SU lacked a voice for the LGBT community.
‘We want to serve the portion of the SU community that we do not feel is being served through any media outlet,’ Miller, a MNO graduate student, said. ‘They have a lot of great resources for LGBT students here, but they do not have a publication.’
The magazine’s articles will not cater solely to the LGBT community. It will include stories about celebrities and activities on campus, Alyssa Arater, magazine art director, said. ‘It is unfortunate that some people will not read the magazine due to its LGBT theme. If they did, they would probably find it interesting,’ she said.
Jackson and Miller said they have received a lot of support and encouragement for the magazine. However, because the LGBT publication has not received any negative criticism may be because the magazine has not yet reached the public, Jackson said.
‘At this point people are attracted to the project because they are enthusiastic about it and the subject matter or the audience,’ Chessher said. ‘It is like preaching to the choir; obviously the choir is going to show up for the sermon.’
But obstacles for the student-run publication will go beyond generating general interest.
‘I think the challenge with creating one publication that speaks directly to a very expansive group is that it is hard to speak directly to gay men, to gay women, to transgendered people or to bisexuals,’ Chessher said. ‘All of those people have very specific interests, needs, wants, aspirations and fantasies.’
The magazine is currently staffed by approximately 31 students, but since the staff is mostly made up of graduate students or senior undergraduates, maintaining a substantial staff may be challenging next semester.
Although it is difficult to recruit staff writers, editors and designers now, the organizers said when the magazine is released and taken seriously, more students will want to participate in its distribution.
The staff also faced issues with fundraising and underestimated the cost of printing.
There will be 1,000 copies of the magazine distributed throughout campus and in the city of Syracuse. Jackson and Miller will personally deliver the magazines.
The magazine will also promote awareness and potentially rid stereotypes and assumptions about the community, Jackson said.
‘There are interesting, compelling stories, there are critical issues, and I think the magazine cannot help but raise awareness,’ Chessher said.
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