An interview with Fred Palmer, publisher
Q&A by Kate Gonzales
Solving Sacramento, a journalism collaborative, launched in early 2022 with the goal of covering the region’s most pressing issues. Up first: the lack of affordable housing. The collaboration includes seven local media outlets, including Outword Magazine, and one civic-engagement organization. It is currently funded by the Solutions Journalism Network and fiscally sponsored by the Local Media Foundation.
Outword publishes twice monthly on the second and fourth Thursday, and each issue is available to download for free. The magazine serves the local LGBTQ popution; nationwide, about 7 percent of people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual.
Outword Magazine Publisher Fred Palmer tells us about his organization’s involvement in the collaborative.
Why are you in this collaborative?
It’s really important to have collaborative journalism, because in a lot of towns, ours included, there are not enough voices to represent all the different pieces of our community. So the collaborative is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to work together and ensure people’s voices are heard and that we represent the entire community.
Why does coverage of affordable housing in Sacramento matter?
It’s a hot topic on a national level. … The recent pandemic made most of us more abundantly aware of the issue. It was impossible for people to keep their blinders on any longer. There’s a lot of folks at the border of becoming homeless because affordable housing is impossible. They’re living paycheck to paycheck. Certainly there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Not everyone’s issues are the same. Not everyone’s needs are the same. There certainly are people who are in this situation that are single parents, single women with kids. There’s folks that have all different varieties of reasons and needs of why they’re in the situation that they are. We really need to look at the problems and solutions.
Why is a solutions journalism approach important to your work?
The solutions journalism model brings us all together as different publications and networks — print, radio and TV — because we’re all involved, we’re multicultural. The solutions journalism model’s really important. I also think from a financial perspective, there is not support for independent journalism. There just isn’t. There never has been, really. There are so many conglomerates that own media. So in a particular city, radio, print and TV may not have balanced journalism. Now we’re in a better position as a collaborative to provide that.
\What other innovative projects or collaborations is your outlet involved in?
I own Outword. I also run the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, which is an LGBT chamber. I, along with several other business leaders, started the Rainbow Chamber 20 years ago. Beyond the LGBTQ space, I’ve collaborated for decades with folks in the Black chamber, the Hispanic chamber, the Asian chamber and those larger communities. I think it’s really important to collaborate because the LGBTQ community has needs and desires and requires allies, and vice versa. When there’s somebody that is attacking culturally, whether it’s the Black community, the Asian community, the Hispanic community, the LGBT community and even the women’s community, it’s up to all of us to have a unified voice.
Tell us more about your role with Outword.
I started the newspaper out of activism when the former LGBT newspaper that existed was closing. I had a full-time job; my background is in sales and marketing. We closed up the old newspaper on a Friday and we started Outword the following Monday. My role is mostly sales, marketing and day-to-day operations.
Tell us an interesting tidbit about your organization.
I started Outword 27 years ago. We were going to have a huge party for our 25-year anniversary a couple of years ago, but COVID took that away. Like a lot of other news organizations, we asked our community to support us with the Outword Rainbow Fund. We’re celebrating our 27th anniversary internally and with our community.