Despite continuing financial, distribution and organisational problems, here we are again with issue No. 8. At least no-one can say that we are just a ‘seven-issue wonder’. And although the problems pertaining to the paper’s existence still continue, we of the collective are coming to terms with how much work and commitment is needed to carry on bringing out a regular fortnightly newspaper. It’s also becoming much more fun for us to be involved with such a project; even the rows and unpleasant situations we have recently found ourselves taking part in have not stopped us from realising that an aura of happiness from each member of the editorial collective is an important factor in getting out each edition of Gay News. We don’t want to bore you with the long hours etc. bit, but you really can do just about anything if you keep smiling.
Our money and distribution problems are closely tied together. You have no doubt noticed that under the credits and contents section on this page, we claim that distribution is done by ‘Us, You and A Prayer Book’. Well, strictly speaking that’s true. We do have three or four small distribution companies helping us, but the majority of copies you see in the limited number of shops that stock the paper are there because we supplied them. The shops have them either because they responded to a letter we wrote to them; because the shops got fed up with being asked for the paper by their customers, or because one of you wrote or telephoned us giving details of outlets you thought were worth us following up. (Thanks a lot, and keep it up). Also, as many of you will know, we regularly sell the paper in the major gay pubs in London, and we believe that copies are available in a few pubs and clubs around the country.
But unfortunately these distribution outlets are still not enough to support our continued existence. We must sell more copies to carry on, and we hope that as a result of a lot more effort on your part, and help from you whenever you can supply it, that we will be able to sell more of each edition, both in London and, more importantly, in the rest of the country.
There are so many areas of the country we never reach and then there are places where the amount sent is, in our opinion, ridiculously small. One such place is Manchester, where it is left to one or two people to try to get the paper to the whole of the gay population of that city. It’s crazy that we should sell almost double the quantity we sell in Manchester in Brighton. Even Reading sells almost as many as the major city of the north of England. And it’s not just Manchester that has such poor distribution. Liverpool, at present, has less copies sent to it than Bath.
Of course, we are not trying to put down the people who already do as much as they possibly can in those places where our circulation is so disastrous, but we appeal to all gay people who live in places where the paper is rarely seen to help alter this situation. There are a number of ways you can do this for us. Firstly, you can sell them for us, whether in your local gay pubs or clubs, or just to your circle of friends and acquaintances.
Secondly, if you are not into selling copies yourself, perhaps you know of someone who might, or maybe you could approach gay pubs and clubs in your area to sell them for us. Thirdly, you can send us the names and addresses of any newsagents and bookshops you think may be interested in stocking us. It would be better still if you could approach them for us. Fourthly, please send us details of newspaper wholesalers and small distributors that operate in your part of the country. Lastly, you could take out a subscription and let all your friends see the paper after you have read it, and then encourage them to also take out a subscription. And, as a last thought, you could send us the names and addresses of any people you know who, in your opinion, would like to see Gay News, and would like us to send them a sample copy of a back number so that they can see what we are up to, and all being well, they might decide that they want to see the paper regularly, especially if they live in a more isolated part of the country.
We feel that it is important that Gay News reaches as many places and people as possible. It wasn’t so long ago that nearly all of us had to live ‘double lives’, but times have changed and although the situation is still far from ideal, at least not as many of us have to live in dread and in isolation for being what we naturally are. So it is essential that Gay News takes its place alongside of all the other newspapers and periodicals at newsagents, street vendors pitches and bookshops. Gay News has ‘come out’ and must stay out in the open and not be relegated to just a few sympathetic retailers and pom shops. In time we hope that we will be joined by other gay publications, and not just the ones that are out to exploit you.
It looks now that distribution will always be our responsibility (with a little help from our friends and you). In past issues we have shown you the ‘polite’ and ‘understanding’ but unco-operative letters from major distributors who have refused to handle us. In the columns of this editorial we reproduce two more such letters. The addresses of these firms should be legible, so may we suggest that you write to these companies and tell them that wide distribution is necessary for the paper, and also let them know about the difficulties you have encountered in obtaining copies.
And anything else you may care to add. We suggest you do this as soon as possible; it just might make someone at Seymours or one of the other organisations such as W.H.Smiths wake up to the reality that it is not just us that want Gay News to be as widely available as possible.
We dislike to be continually appealing for your help, but if we are to survive, we must have your support. This is your paper, don’t forget, and there are no nameless, faceless people trying to make a fortune out of you. Nor is it the aim of Gay News to subvert you with one particular political viewpoint. Your political opinions are your affairs, just as the ones we individually hold are ours. There is a need though for a change in the existing legislation that affects gay people, but one does not have to subscribe to just one political party or organisation to attempt to obtain these much needed alterations to the statute books.
Eventually, through more efficient and wider distribution of the paper around the whole of the country we hope to alleviate most of our money problems. And add to this the increased advertising which we hope to attract, and maybe soon we will be in a more secure financial position. But at present we are very short of cash. And what national newspaper isn’t. But we feel that what we are attempting to provide through the news and information that appears in our pages is something that papers such as The Times, The Sun do not print, and they have no positive plans to include such items in their columns, no matter what the need. So if you feel that we are a valuable asset to the gay community, please help us to carry on, in any way that you are able.
Since the completion of GN No 7 and the appearance of this issue, we have gone through a number of changes in our organisational structure. At times this has led to some bitter quarrels and truth games amongst ourselves, but all is now resolved. The result is that we feel that Gay News will be a more effective and streamlined operation, which will mean both a more comprehensive and objective system for the gathering in of news and articles, as well as generally tightening up our office procedures. The last point being somewhat boring but necessary, although we hope to avoid all the bureaucracy that so many organisations fall foul of. The addition of new members to our editorial collective, who bring with them both experience and new ideas, will in time make it possible for us to boast a ‘new improved’ Gay News.
There is also a good possibility that we will be moving to larger offices next month (at no extra cost, we hope). Those of you who have braved 79 steps up to our present office will understand why it is necessary for this move, and will be relieved to hear that our new premises will be on basement level.
We apologise for not letting you know what happened to the Biograph Review in the last issue. We leave it to Julian D. to explain what has been going on in his column in this edition. Also Denis Lemon will be commenting on the recent legal proceedings he has unfortunately been involved in.
Some of you may have noticed a number of design errors in GN No 7. These were due to the fact that the collective had to get the paper together, for the first time, without the invaluable aid of our resident designer. Everything is back to ‘normal’ in this issue though, we are glad to say.
We hope you all find something interesting and informative in the pages of this issue. But please remember that it is basically up to you whether or not we succeed in being useful and entertaining, not forgetting too that we need all the help you can give us in just keeping the paper alive, well and ‘kicking’.
Take care of yourselves, write to us, and to misquote the words of a past Gay News ‘queen of the month’; ‘Come up and see us sometime’.
So many of you complained when we went back to 12 pages again last issue that we’ve relented and given you 16 again. Apart from anything else we couldn’t have fitted everything in otherwise. I only wish you were as eager to send in your spare cash as you are to moan when we try and do something better.
BEDFORD, PLYMOUTH, STOKE, DONCASTER, YORK, ABERDEEN, CARDIFF, BOURNEMOUTH
In some of these towns., Gay News is not as available as we would like. If you live in these towns and want to sell ‘Gay News’ in bulk (10 or more copies) at 7p each, write or phone GAY NEWS, 19 London Street, London W2. Tel. 01-402-7805