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Lesbian & Gay Journalists Convene in Chicago


News Advisory:

NLGJA National Convention Will Launch NLGJA Hall of Fame and Host Special Plenary on Hurricane Katrina News Coverage

September 22-25, Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton Hotel

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender journalists will gather in Chicago from Thursday, September 22 through Sunday, September 25 for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) 2005 National Convention.

This year’s theme - “Out in the Heartland” - will focus on four days of newsworthy panels and plenary sessions as well as recognition of America’s most respected openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender journalists. For the first time in its 15-year history, NLGJA will establish its own Hall of Fame by inducting a select handful of celebrated individuals beginning with NLGJA founder and Pulitzer-prize winning editor, the late Leroy F. Aarons. Other inaugural 2005 inductees include:

-- Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, pioneering lesbian journalists, life partners and co-editors of “The Ladder,” considered America’s first publication (1956) intended for lesbian readers;

-- Thomas Morgan III, veteran New York Times editor, openly gay President of the National Association of Black Journalists in 1989, who built bridges for many gay journalists of color;

-- The late Sarah Pettit, co-founder and editor of Out Magazine (1992) as well as arts and entertainment editor for Newsweek Magazine;

-- The late Randy Shilts, trailblazing writer and author forever linked with America’s HIV epidemic in his work for The Advocate, the San Francisco Chronicle, and his epic book, “And the Band Played On;” and

-- The late Don Slater, founder and editor of the crusading gay publication, ONE, who long battled anti-gay U.S. postal rules starting in 1953 and ending in a 1958 U.S. Supreme Court victory for all gay media.

Eric Hegedus, President of NLGJA, said, “All of our honorees, especially our own Roy Aarons, not only blazed historic trails for all journalists, they gave us powerful legacies to inspire the next generations of successful, openly gay journalists.” Hegedus thanked Ken Jost, chair of the Hall of Fame Task Force, as well as other Task Force members Dane Claussen, Charles Kaiser, Carol Pierson, Rodger Streitmatter, Linda Villarosa and Steve Friess.

Pamela Strother, NLGJA Executive Director, added that the Convention will honor several other excellence in journalism award-winners, and especially highlighted the 2005 honoree for NLGJA Journalist of the Year, Meredith May, correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the recipient of the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media, John Caldwell, Associate Editor at The Advocate. (The complete list of NLGJA Excellence in Journalism award-winners may be found at

At the NLGJA closing plenary, scheduled for 3:30 PM (CT) Saturday, September 24, the attendees will hear a special panel of journalists who overcame countless obstacles in their eyewitness reports of the devastation and recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. Participants include New Orleans Times- Picayune writer Keith Darcé; Michael Beagle, student journalist at the Daily Reveille (Louisiana State University); New Orleans native and Wall Street Journal reporter Steven Gray; James Warner, news director at KATC-TV (Lafayette, LA); Cindy Brown, Associate Professor, University of Southern Mississippi; and Loyola University’s Director of Publications Arthur Stern. Former CNBC journalist Garrett Glaser will moderate this important closing session.

The four-day Chicago gathering will draw hundreds of journalists, educators and communications professionals from mainstream and LGBT media to discuss topics that include gay television; the rise of gay cultural and political blogs; the intersecting coverage issues of race, gender, and HIV status in journalism and public relations; specialized writing and editorial skills; journalism ethics; and career development for beginning and mid-career journalists. The convention also will host a special 15th anniversary gala dinner and awards ceremony emceed by entertainment reporter Steve Kmetko.

“This week, our members will come to Chicago from across the nation for the single most important gathering we hold each year,” said NLGJA President Eric Hegedus. “Celebrating our 15 years of leadership, NLGJA is uniquely qualified to bring skills and substance to the expert coverage of critical gay issues.” Hegedus is a page designer for the New York Post.

The 2005 NLGJA Convention will take place at the Palmer House Hilton (17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL). NLGJA Executive Director Pamela Strother noted that up to 650 LGBT journalists and news industry leaders are expected to attend, adding, “Our presenters, workshops and plenary sessions promise to make this one of the most fulfilling programs we have offered.” The National Convention is hosted by the Chicago Chapter of NLGJA, with speakers and participants from most major U.S. newspapers and television and radio outlets, as well as LGBT-owned media and online media services. NLGJA leaders Kate Roberts, former Ohio broadcast editor for The Associated Press and Doug Stewart, operations manager for WTIC-TV (Fox, Hartford, CT) served as this year’s convention programming co-chairs. Geoff Dankert, managing editor for WFLD-TV (Fox, Chicago) and Jay Vanasco, Chicago-based freelance writer are the Chicago host committee co-chairs.

As part of the convention, NLGJA will offer its second annual LGBT Media Summit with panels scheduled on Thursday, September 22, on topics relevant to journalists who work primarily in the LGBT press. Coordinators of the 2005 LGBT Media Summit are Tracy Baim, publisher of the Chicago-based Windy City Times, and Tom Musbach, News Director for PlanetOut Inc. and an NLGJA board member.

Given NLGJA’s longstanding commitment to professional education, Executive Director Pamela Strother noted that NLGJA will use this year’s convention to unveil its new combined English and Spanish Language Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Terminology. This specialized journalist resource helps educate reporters and newsroom managers on the terms best used when addressing LGBT issues. Strother added that with the rapid increase in the Latino population and media throughout the U.S., there is an immediate need for a Stylebook that combines English and Spanish language background for newsrooms.


The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students who work within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NLGJA currently has more than 1,300 members and 24 chapters in the U.S., with affiliates in Canada and Germany. More information about NLGJA and the 15th Anniversary Celebration & Convention may be found at

Media contacts:

Pamela Strother, Executive Director, NLGJA, Office phone: 202.588.9888 ext. 11 Cell: 202.486.5990 (September 19-26), Email:

Bob Witeck, Witeck-Combs Communications, Phone: 202.887.0500 ext. 19 (prior to convention), Cell phone: 202.997.4055 (during convention); Email:


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