March 31, 2016
Frontiers Fires Lesbian Reporter For Being Too Old
Winnie McCroy READ TIME: 2 MIN.
A renowned and respected lesbian reporter was just sacked for being too old -- and the publication that fired her is LGBT!
LGBT Nation reports that 66-year-old news editor Karen Ocamb was called into the Frontiers Magazine office during her vacation, and summarily fired.
Since joining the publication in 2002, Ocamb had risen up to become their news editor. But new owners decided they wanted to focus the magazine on millennials, and that she would be "laid off."
Now, however, they're admitting that Ocamb is fired. And what's more, it's because she's just too old. In an article in Press Pass Q, Ocamb confided that "I was just laid off as news editor of Frontiers Magazine and FrontiersMedia.com. The company, Multimedia Platforms Worldwide, is making major changes to the magazine and is building a new website -- all of which will be announced later.
"I have never been laid off before so even saying, 'laid off,' feels odd. I started my career in the gay press after meeting Frontiers founder Bob Craig in 1988. My first piece for the magazine was about ACT UP storming the FDA and the simultaneous protests here in Los Angeles. It has been an honor and privilege to have covered the HIV/AIDS and LGBT movement since then," said Ocamb in that article.
Bobby Blair, CEO of Frontiers parent company, Multimedia Platforms Worldwide, said they eliminated $1.1M in inefficiencies by reducing print staff. In code speak, he revealed that Ocamb was sacked to make room for those advertiser-coveted youths.
"Unfortunately, Karen fell where we realized we were moving toward a digital and millennial audience, and we wanted to give the generation of millennials a real shot at creating our content," Blair told PressPassQ. "Karen did an incredible job and is very much missed. We would like to use her services in the future from time to time, if she would like to."
Ocamb has been stoic about it all saying, "Lay offs are hard, no matter how they are handled. So being told I'm not needed anymore has been strange for me. I've tried to be gracious, after all -- people I care about still work at the company and I carry with me the memories of when Frontiers was important for news about HIV/AIDS and the latest civil rights battles. As someone said in an email, this smacks of a 'post-gay' move. I just don't think we're 'post-gay' yet. On the other hand, given Bobbie Blair's comment, I am now most definitely 'post-Frontiers'."
But Bob Witeck, president of the DC-based Witeck Communications, was concerned that the publication so cavalierly dismissed such a valuable resource as Ocamb, one of the hardest-working journalists in the LGBT community.
"It's hard to understand the business choices made by Frontiers, or why her dismissal seemed prudent, necessary or even cost-effective," said Witeck. "I can't believe firing Karen will help one iota with either their readership or advertisers. I imagine this means they will report fewer stories and far more superficially in the future, which may only degrade their product over time."
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.