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Out in the Bay

The Bay Area Reporter LGBTQ Newspaper Turns 50

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Courtesy of The Bay Area Reporter
News Editor Cynthia Laird and Publisher Michael Yamashita celebrate The Bay Area Reporter's 50 years

San Francisco LGBTQ publication The Bay Area Reporter grew from an early 1970s “gay bar gossip rag” into one of the most influential LGBTQ newspapers and online news outlets in the country. The B.A.R.'s publisher and news editor reflect on turning 50 in these tough times for independent media and on a half-century of queer history.

The Bay Area Reporter newspaper and online news outlet this year celebrates a half-century of serving Northern California's LGBTQ community with a "50 Years in 50 Weeks" retrospective.

It’s a big deal that any independent media outlet can mark a significant anniversary this year, as the COVID pandemic has put extra strain on publications in an already tough, competitive industry. It's even more of a big deal for an outlet covering queer news and culture.

The Bay Area Reporter – the B.A.R. for short – started in 1971 as a “bar rag” weekly newspaper covering San Francisco’s gay bar culture and grew over the decades into one of the most influential LGBTQ news publications in the country. Its publishers claim the B.A.R. has the largest readership of any US LGBTQ news outlet and is also the longest continuously published.

On this week’s Out in the Bay, news editor Cynthia Laird and publisher Michael Yamashita recount the publication's founding 50 years ago, high and low points of queer civil rights reflected in the B.A.R.'s coverage, and the challenges of staying alive and vibrant today.

See the Bay Area Reporter's 50th Anniversary and its 50 Years in 50 Weeks editions with historical articles, photos and more, under its online 50th Anniversary tab at EBAR.com.

You can also see past B.A.R. articles, photos and advertisements - including racy gay classified ads - that illustrate how things have changed over the decades in a fascinating online exhibition, Stories of Our Movement: The Bay Area Reporter at 50. The exhibition was curated by long-time photographer Rick Gerharter and is hosted by the GLBT Historical Society.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.