In an era when gay papers are dropping like Calvins, 30 years and 1000 editions is an impressive record. Longevity, however, is no guarantee of survival.

Some, like the UK Pink Paper, need a change of name, as they’re now internet-only. Some have vanished, like the Washington Blade. The virus ravaging print media is the internet and no one, not even Rupert Murdoch, has so far come up with a cure.

Gay papers are trapped in a vice — and I don’t mean the fun kind. They must be online, not just to provide story ideas for lazy mainstream journalists to steal without attribution, but also to reach people too remote, too closeted to come within cooee of a printed copy. And they must provide news. Anyone can offer opinions, and thousands of bloggers do, but only paid, professional journalists generate original news content.

But do we need professional gay journalists? Surely the mainstream press reports gay issues now?

Remember the Michael Neal case? After briefly flirting with responsible factual reportage, The Age went on a tabloid binge with unsubstantiated stories of ‘bug-chasers’ and ‘gift-givers’— for which, the journalist concerned won awards and promotion. The SMH and Murdoch press followed suit.

Straight journalists and mainstream papers have a different agenda, and it’s not about giving us a fair shake of the sauce bottle. We still need a gay press, with gay journalists, working in media that are not driven solely by the needs of advertisers, or a rich owner’s need to find his boyfriend something to do.

Gay & Lesbian Community Publishing Limited, publishers of Sydney Star Observer, is “owned by members of and operated for the gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and queer communities”.

And we’ve also started a family, giving birth to Southern Star in October 2008.

Maybe this is a phase to get through. Maybe technology will rescue what it’s currently destroying. E-readers are becoming available. They’re not quite good enough yet, but could they become the platform that will carry papers like the Stars through the next 1000 editions?

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