'ADVOCATE' CHANGES EDITORIAL FOCUS: MAGAZINE TO STRESS ANALYSIS PIECES; HARD NEWS HEADS FOR ITS WEB SITE

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Hoping to stay relevant in a quickly changing world, The Advocate is shifting editorial focus by moving hard-news coverage out of the every-other-weekly publication and onto its previously static Web site.

A redesign of the 30-year-old magazine for gays will hit newsstands Feb. 4, also de-emphasizing its well-known celebrity interviews such as Madonna, Dennis Rodman and Cher-a previous staple-in favor of news analysis.

FIRST AD FROM COORS

Breaking in the new issue is a first-time ad from Coors Brewing Co., joining Miller Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch in targeting gay consumers with gay-specific creative.

"Perception isn't always reality," says the in-house created ad, which goes on to tout the brewer's corporate domestic-partner benefits and non-discriminatory hiring policy. Coors is trying to counter the perception of homophobia and the effects of a since-ended boycott that have haunted the brewer for years.

Despite launching one of the best-recognized gay brands onto the Web in December 1995, The Advocate's site (http://www.advocate.

com) languished with little more than an every-other-weekly poll, teaser information from current issues and message boards. With the addition of daily gay-related news, the site will compete with Out's site (http://www.out.com), launched six months before The Advocate's.

"What role can a magazine play in a world where news is passed around on an hourly basis?" asked Sam Watters, Advocate publisher. "It's our intention to always keep the magazine evolving and remain current."

Advertisers already in the magazine, such as American Express Financial Advisors and Seagram Americas' Absolut vodka, were previously given value-added presence at the site, but plans are to begin selling it separately.

"The whole world is trying to absorb all this information and they're telling us they're inundated," said Judy Wieder, Advocate editor in chief, who spearheaded most of the changes. "There's nothing wrong with a good celebrity interview, but it should intersect with a news issue. And why should a story like 'Ellen,' which is such a hard-news event, be relegated to the back of the book with entertainment?"

Ms. Wieder, who took the editor's post last August, is the publication's first female chief editor.

CIRCULATION UP 5.1%

Circulation at the magazine has remained stable for years, totaling 76,228 for the six months ended June 30, up 5.1%, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. However, chief competitor Out has been more active, up 33.5% to 125,622.

Though ad pages at The Advocate were flat in 1996, at 1,127 pages, the magazine was able to diversify its categories, adding pharmaceutical marketers SmithKline Beecham and Johnson & Johnson, fashion including designer Gianni Versace and Saab Cars USA in automobiles.

Joe Landry, previously advertising director at The Advocate, was appointed to the new position of associate publisher.

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