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Gay publisher Xtra to embrace digital, close print

Pink Triangle Press expands digital operations; print editions to fold in mid-February

Xtra cover collage Credit: dailyxtra.com

The following press release was issued today by Pink Triangle Press. Daily Xtra will be reporting on the story later today and in the days ahead.

PRESS RELEASE
Jan 14, 2015
For immediate release

Gay publisher Xtra to embrace digital, close print 
Pink Triangle Press expands digital operations; print editions to fold in mid-February

(Toronto) — Pink Triangle Press (PTP), Canada’s leading gay and lesbian publisher, today announced a major strategic repositioning to an all-digital publishing company. As a result, next month PTP will close print editions of the Xtra gay and lesbian community newspapers in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

PTP will focus on developing its journalism website, dailyxtra.com, and gay adult dating website, squirt.org. The all-digital direction is the result of an eight-month strategic-assessment process senior management at PTP began in spring 2014.

The final issues of Xtra Vancouver and Xtra Ottawa will appear on streets on Feb 12, 2015. The Toronto edition of Xtra will close on the newspaper’s 31st anniversary; final issue on streets on Feb 19, 2015.

“For most of the past year our management team worked with external advisors to arrive at an answer to this question: how can we best use our resources to continue to promote sexual freedom in a financially sustainable manner? We have concluded that a complete transition to digital media offers the best opportunity to continue to engage our audiences over the long term,” says Ken Popert, executive director and president of PTP.

Popert says the move to all-digital journalism will bring with it significant benefits: a wider audience for PTP’s message; greater currency; more effective advocacy; and, global news combined with local action.

As part of its revised strategy, the company is also launching a new social sponsorship program to offer a strong, continued presence on the ground in its communities and to open up the Daily Xtra digital space in new ways to organizations and audiences, encouraging community involvement and enhancing PTP’s journalism as a social experience. The program is in an initial testing phase in the Toronto market.

“We have a good track record of online engagement through Daily Xtra and other channels like YouTube,” says David Walberg, CEO of digital media at PTP. “Most of our revenues already come through digital membership sales in the adult dating space, where we’ve had great success building a growing online community.”

“We are looking to hone our journalism focus and develop a number of our unique strengths,” Walberg says. “We have a particularly strong relationship with our core local communities. Our editorial voice is also unique, in that we have consistently championed sexual freedom and freedom of expression. We are one of very few entities in the world producing gay and lesbian video journalism. We are also committed to exploring an international role for the press over the next few years.” 

“PTP has survived for more than four decades because it has not been afraid to innovate in the way we earn our money and deliver our message. Over the years, Xtra took over from The Body Politic, Squirt replaced Cruiseline and dailyxtra.com supplanted xtra.ca,” Popert says.

The newspaper closures will result next month in a staff reduction of 12 full-time employees from the company’s publishing and administration divisions. As a digital publisher, PTP will go on to employ 57 people in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

History of Xtra
Xtra Toronto was launched in February 1984, alongside PTP’s then flagship publication, The Body Politic. In 1987, the press shuttered The Body Politic to focus on the development of Xtra, which quickly grew to be Canada’s most influential and widely read gay and lesbian newspaper. PTP launched editions of Xtra in Vancouver and Ottawa in 1993, creating Canada’s first and only national gay and lesbian media group.

Founded in 1971 to advance the struggle for sexual liberation, Pink Triangle Press’s defining activity is lesbian and gay journalism. Frustrated that there wasn’t a voice representing the political and social concerns of gay men and lesbians, a group of Toronto activists launched the gay liberation newspaper The Body Politic. In 2008, The Body Politic was named by Masthead magazine as one of “Canada’s 20 most influential magazines of all time.”

Over four decades, PTP grew from a small grassroots operation to one of the most diversified gay multimedia enterprises in the world, with a roster of brands ranging from print to online publishing and television production.

“Although the scale of the press has grown hugely since 1971, we remain true to our founding principles. We have no owners or shareholders profiting from our work, and our overriding message remains that collective action is the way to advance the common good,” Popert says.