In a ground breaking move, Gay Times just hired one of the youngest CEOs for a global media brand ever.
In many ways, this makes sense. The media landscape is like quicksand. What were previously strong pillars of the fourth estate – advocacy, the fight for truth, transparency – have been replaced by allegations of fake news, dishonesty and bias.
That adds to an already ailing industry that has seen flagship publications go under (think NME, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan) due in large part to the changing way we consume media. Thanks to the rise of devices, we no longer need to buy physical things. Newspapers, magazine, even music are always just a few mouse clicks or taps away.
And because it’s online, the expectation is that it’s free. If it’s not free, we move on. And in a few more clicks or taps, are likely to come across if not the same, at least a similar version of what we were looking for.
So to say the media game is a tough one at the moment, would be a colossal understatement.
Gay Times – Old Meets New(s)
Gay Times is one of the longest running LGBTQ magazines in the world.
And I’m sure that they haven’t been immune to the challenges facing the media industry. In fact, as a niche publication (in that, the LGBTQ audience is smaller, size-wise, than for non-LGBTQ specific publications), they’ve probably felt the ramifications even more.
The fact that they’re still around speaks volumes about not only their content, but also their business smarts. Somehow, amidst a backdrop of declining readers and a resistance to pay for content, thye’ve been able to consistently put out a high quality publication.
But these days, there’s no time for resting on laurels. Adapt or die isn’t just an abstract adage, it’s an inherent component of any successful media company’s business strategy.
Enter Tag Warner, 24
Taking over from outgoing CEO James Frost, Tag Warner is set to be one of the youngest CEO appointments of any global media brands. Tag is 24 years old. Frost will stay on at Gay Times as Chairman, while Tag takes up the CEO leadership role.
So, what will Tag bring to the role?
Well, it seems he’s already started. Warner has already been quietly taking the organisation on a visionary journey, implementing a mission to amplify queer voices across new digital and content platforms whilst widening its audience in both demographic and diversity.
Some of these offerings include –
- AMPLIFIED – A weekly queer content newsletter that’s led to renewed sales and seen double digit monthly percentage growths across Gay Times’ primary social channel, Instagram.
- He will kick off a multi-channel campaign centred around the importance of generations of queer people, as well as touting the next generation of queer leaders in their respective fields.
- Gay Times will also launch a philanthropic arm to the brand, with the mission of providing grants to micro and small media and activist organisations in challenging global LGBTQ contexts such as the Caribbean and South-East Asia.
Risk vs Reward
Will this work?…
Will hiring a 24 year old to lead one of the most high-profile, long-running LGBTQ publications in the world work? Is his age an advantage in this youth obsessed, digital age we live in? Or does he lack the necessary business skills that can only come from lived experience?
According to Tag –
“My role and purpose is to connect LGTBQ people and our allies from around the world with stories, with experiences and with each other. I believe our community, now perhaps more than ever, need greater platforms to raise and amplify our voices. Taking on one of the world’s most recognised and farthest reaching queer media brands is truly an honour. To be able to do this at my age, with a new energy and outlook for the brand, I hope sends a strong message to people in our community that a new generation of media leadership is here.”
Personally, I wish him all the success in the world. I agree with him that now more than ever, despite the recent progress that’s been made, we do need platforms that give us a voice.
And perhaps his age, while being buzz-worthy (and yes, headline worthy), isn’t really an indicator of his ability to perform the role well. I believe you can be just as capable at 24, as you can at 54.
It all comes down to his personal – and professional – characteristics. And while age does help to shape and refine those, I get the feeling he was hired because the powers at be at Gay Times know he’s the right person for the job, not because they wanted to generate a few headlines.
The One Thing We Can All Do….
Ultimately, one person cannot, by themselves, save or sink a media brand. We all play a role, and there’s one simple thing we can all do – pay for content. Now, I’m not affiliated with Gay Times in any way, so when I say that, I mean whatever content you want to support. Just go out – and buy something.
Yes, following on social media is great. Yes, getting free weekly emails is great. But if you want your local publication to see another week, or if you want one of the world’s longest running publications to keep delivering well into the future, it comes down to money.
And that is something we can all do. Let’s put our money where our mouth is, so that platforms that tell our stories continue to do the important work they do. For our generation, as well as those to come.