The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for a free press but let me tell you that if you are community newspaper, there is nothing free about it.

 

South Florida Gay News is published every Wednesday and distributed immediately to over 422 locations in three different counties, from South Beach to Palm Beach. This week, we expanded our distribution to include guest houses and venues in Key West. Add to that mix the 7-11 stores and local chain pharmacies which carry our publication, and we are everywhere.

Our paper is of course free to everyone, but it costs a small fortune to print and distribute it every week. Two vans, increasing gasoline costs, and cities even charging us money to place our 50 news boxes in public locations all add to our overhead. But we are proud of the product we have created. We are also proud as we close our first year with our 49th issue that we have become the credible, newsworthy, progressive publication of record for the LGBT community of South Florida.

Our paper is an affiliate of the Florida Press Association and a member of the Associated Press. We have developed a media partnership with the Sun-Sentinel and Edge Publications. We are about to join the Suburban Newspapers Association and are already partners with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, who even invited us to participate in panels at their national conference. We are the exclusive South Florida distributors of news content for LGBT news services such as the Keen News and Q Syndicates. We have broken national news stories which have been picked up by Advocate.com, Towleroad, and the mainstream press.

Whether you realize it or not, we have now published 2,000 pages of news and over 1,000 articles. Our website, accessible at www.sfgn.com, has every one of them, including our daily updates and headlines. Oh, yeah, our dedicated web server costs almost $200 bucks a month, too. Some free press. Actually, the truth is we are here because of you. Were it not for the support of the business community, your community paper would not be thriving. Yes, we want to be the LGBT newspaper of record for sure, but we also want our business to make you business.

Therefore, as we close the year, I have to pay special tribute to a wealth of business professionals who took a leap of faith and stood with us from the beginning. They did more than invest in our business. They invested in you, the community, and your aspiration that we needed a weekly news chronicle which illuminated our lives, wins and warts, accolades and embarrassments. We needed a newspaper that was populated first with news, content, and class, not just ads and ass.

Words then, cannot adequately express my appreciation for Andy Weiser and L. John Castelli, realtors who have stood with us since day one. Much the same is to be said for attorneys George Castrataro, who backed this paper from the start, along with Gregory Kabel, Selzer & Weiss, Robin Bodiford, and Stephen Jerome. What gave our paper credibility from the outset was having Dan Pye from Morgan Stanley say yes to us, as did Al Cicotte and Kevin Palombo from American Tax and Insurance. That investment has paid off for them, because our business is making you business.

Yes, this paper is here because my CEO Pier Guidugli joined with me in making this investment, but without professionals like Dr. Howard Cunningham, and Oakland Park Dental, or Dr. John Sarris, and Gold Dental Plan, we would not still be here. Businessmen like Paul Hugo and Brett Tannenbaum, owners of the Manor, have done more than change the nightlife of Wilton Manors. They have given us literally, food, and sustenance. For libations and nighttime relaxing, so much is owed to Laurie, Marty and Jennifer at Sidelines. We have been able to write about them often because of how much they have given back to our own community. So too has the dynamic and vibrant AIDS Health Care Foundation, nobly fighting an honorable cause while significantly investing in the South Florida Gay News.

The truth is by July of this year we had run advertising for over 65 businesses, and if we were to use this issue to run each of over 100 advertisers who have graced these pages, this week’s publication would be over 100 pages. The LGBT community is a sophisticated one, and therefore we love theater and entertainment, culture and nightlife. So from the outset we have not only had theatrical and dining reviews on our pages, they have been enhanced by the support of Hard Rock Live, the Kravis Center, Broadway Across America, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Even local community theaters like David Goldyn’s Rising Action Theater have helped us achieve a newspaper you can, as we say, respect in the morning.

Even non profits have asked us to publicize them while allowing us to provide them with editorial support for their noble goals. The Miami Gay Men’s Chorus, the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, the newly formed Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, and the Miami City Ballet have reached out to us so we can reach out to you. For stature and credibility, having advertisers such as the Miami Seaquarium,  Nova Southeastern University and Amtrak is an indication we are on the right track. Ads from the Human Rights Campaign and first run movies come our way because we have partnered with the nationally credentialed LGBT marketing team at Rivendell Media of Mountainside, New Jersey.

With the cross-section of our advertisers, and me trying to pay tribute to all, I am bound to forget some. This will lead to egg on my face next week on one hand, but it is also testimony to the plethora and diversity of businesses that have supported us. My sore back has been treated therapeutically by Coast Chiropractic and Camp 4 Health, and more than once I confess, I have not only had a drink at Johnny’s and Cosmos, I have had a lap dance as well. My tires have been changed at Dale’s, and our company vans repaired by Rosen’s Prestige Automotive. I can’t tell you how many pizzas our staff has had from the Island City Pizza. We try to give back to those who give to us, and I suppose the Center for Cosmetic Surgery could have a field day if they or Dr. Tiller in South Beach ever got a hold of my body.

Locally, we have partnered with LGBT chambers of commerce, and tried to support our various charities from AIDS causes to pet rescues, from the Pride Center to drug rehabilitation centers. There is much we have done, and many stories we have written. There is still more we have to do, and many more stories to still write. To paraphrase a TV show from the 50’s, there are 8 million stories in the Naked City. Our newspaper is one of them. So is your life. We look forward to the day when we can make your business, your profile, and your accomplishments part of our pages. Your faith in us will never be misplaced.


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