April 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
From ‘newspaper of record’ to ‘app of record’

When I started at the Blade in 2002, the paper had a rudimentary website complete with an image of flash-animated ruby red slippers to click when you wanted to return to the homepage.

Over the years, the site has evolved and grown and this Friday we will unveil the latest chapter in the Blade’s evolution from a single-page, black and white mimeographed newsletter.

In addition to a new logo and complete print redesign (from our talented creative director, Jim Neal), there’s a revamped website designed to optimize content sharing via social media. In addition, we’re launching new mobile apps for the iPhone and Droid platforms so your old “newspaper of record” is now your “app of record” for LGBT-related news.

To help manage all the new tools, we’ve hired Phil Reese, a digital advocate, writer and podcast host, as our social media director. Back in 2002, a Blade “social media director” would have been responsible for planning office happy hours, but in today’s media landscape it’s a critical new role and we’re excited to welcome Phil to D.C.

Special thanks to Bruce Namerow and his creative team at Interactive Strategies for their work on the new site and to Judy Reagan, founder and president of Reagan Data, for developing the apps. And thanks to other area media professionals who have helped in this process, including Colleen Dermody of Out to Market and Sabine Konhaeuser, principal of No-R-Productions.

It’s a long way from those ruby red slippers and a recognition that today many readers expect their news to be pushed to them, whether via e-mail (be sure to subscribe to the Blade e-Blast), Facebook, Twitter, RSS or mobile app.

The only constant in life — and in the news business — is change. During the years I spent working for the Baltimore Sun, it became apparent that mainstream metropolitan dailies were not built for change. Union protections meant employees could inhabit the same job for 40 years without fear of change. Lumbering bureaucracies meant employees from different departments didn’t interact or communicate. Massive investments in infrastructure (the Sun’s main building occupied a full city block) tied companies to physical locations for decades and brought debt and sky-high maintenance costs. Monopolistic control of local markets brought greed and bred laziness among sales staff.

That was then. Since the late 1990s we’ve learned that news indeed remains a robust business, but what’s needed to thrive is an innovative spirit, the ability to welcome change and willingness to use technology to improve speed and drive down costs. Today the Blade has never had more readers and there’s never been more LGBT-related news to cover. Enjoy the changes and, as always, send us your feedback.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • Kevin, great explanation of the monumental changes in the news-media/news delivery landscape. Your success is a testament to the Blade’s current leadership and the nimbleness, dedication and creativity of its staff. Also, thanks for the plug and congratulations on reaching another milestone in the wonderfully uplifting story of Team Blade. You all rock!

  • Thanks for the warm welcome, Kevin! You’re right–today there’s more happening in the LGBTQ community than ever before–from efforts to make schools safer, to moves to integrate the military, to advances in HIV/AIDS research and, as always, those traditional legislative goals of employment/public accommodation protections & relationship recognition. Its an exciting time to be moving to America’s most exciting city to help connect this work to America and the world!

  • Congratulations to the superb team at the Blade. The great WSJ article and now the new look and options for Blade readers. The Blade will continue to be the paper and now website and app of record for the LGBT community across the nation.

  • Congratulations to The Washington Blade on is redesign. It comes a year after the Blade made its triumphant return to the street vending boxes and newsstands of the nation’s capital and surrounding area.

    The Blade now brands itself “America’s Leading Gay News Source.” Actually, the nation has TWO leading gay news sources. One is based in the nation’s political and governmental capital. The other is based in the nation’s undisputed LGBT capital.

    Of course, I’m referring to the Blade and to San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter. Both are the largest-circulation LGBT newspapers in America and have the two most-visited LGBT news Web sites. Both are the LGBT newspapers that the mainstream media take the most seriously in terms of news presentation.

    And both can now rightfully claim to be America’s oldest LGBT newspapers, even though the Blade was founded in 1969 and the B.A.R. (as the San Francisco paper is affectionately known locally) began publishing two years later.

    As a result of the five-month period between the Blade’s forced shutdown in November 2009 a month after celebrating its 40th anniversary and its triumphant return in April 2010, the B.A.R. — which just celebrated its own 40th anniversary — now boasts that it is “America’s oldest continuously-published LGBT newspaper,” having never missed a printing deadline — not even after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

    As an online subscriber to both papers, never does a week go by when I’m not kept up to date on the latest LGBT news.

    By the way, I do have one suggestion: that the Blade refer to itself as “America’s Leading LGBT News Source.” You know as well as I do that “gay” is generally understood to mean gay men and leaves out lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.

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