By: Mark Fitzgerald
When Vital Voice shut down in October, it left St. Louis without any gay and lesbian-oriented newspaper.
Vital Voice is back now, with a new owner, a new editorial approach — and as a glossy monthly magazine.
“As a newspaper, it was kind of a newspaper/magazine, and it wasn’t really reflecting what the modern LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) reader wants to see in a publication,” Vital Voice’s new owner and publisher, Darin Slyman, said in a telephone interview Monday.
Slyman, who had been its associate publisher, bought the magazine from Pam Schneider in October. “And then I said, shut it down,” Slyman said. “We shut down for three months and completely revamped the and rebranded the entire publication, and relaunched as a magazine.”
Schneider was featured in the November issue of Editor & Publisher for a column she wrote in Vital Voice posing a blunt question to readers: Should the paper continue or fold. Readers overwhelmingly wanted the newspaper to continue to operate, but no one stepped forward to help it financially, she told E&P. Unwilling to go further into debt, she said at the time she was pulling the plug on it, but hinted it might return in January.
In relaunching Vital Voice, Slyman eliminated any hard news of gay issues, which are now covered daily on a beefed-up Web site. The print publication focuses on national, regional and local features and lifestyle. The February cover features Lady Gaga. According to Schneider, Vital Voice was the only St. Louis publication granted an interview by the flamboyant pop star.
“We have gotten some push-back from what I call the Geritol Generation, who say, ‘Where’s the hard news?’,” Slyman said. “I tell them, check out the Web site. But 90% of the LGBT audience loves the changes.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported incorrectly that Vital Voice was the only LGBT publication in Missouri at the time it shut down. In fact, Camp magazine in Kansas City has been publishing for more than five years.
“We have been a source for legitimatenews and features for the LGBT community since our inception and have beenthe official publication of Gay Pride in Kansas City since our launch inJune, 2004,” Camp Publisher John J. Long told E&P. “In fact, last year, Camp published a combined PrideGuide for both Kansas City and St. Louis.”