After 21 years of publishing, Greensboro’s The Rhinoceros Times announced on April 30 that it was producing its last print edition.
“I wish we could continue to provide you with the news, opinion and humor every week that you have come to expect, but we have simply run out of money,” Rhino Times publisher John Hammer wrote. “Like a lot of small businesses, we took a huge hit in 2008, and although we have done everything we could think of, we simply can no longer pay our bills.”
Hammer says the newspaper will continue to have a presence on the web “for as long as possible,” as he seeks donations and contributions to help pay down the paper’s “hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.”
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, the demise of the conservative paper’s print edition comes as a blow to North Carolina’s strong, vibrant and diverse press community.
As a student at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, I often read Hammer’s newspaper. I fondly remember sitting in coffee shops, restaurants and bars along Tate St. and reading the publication. An avid reader of all sorts of news, I’d often devour the local News & Record, YES! Weekly and other publications. The Rhinoceros Times gave me the opportunity to learn about opposing points of view and to put local news in the context of a wider, more diverse community of thought and opinion. Though I rarely agreed with the paper’s slant, I appreciated the alternative voice they brought to local media.
Statewide, the conservative Rhino Times joined with progressive publications like YES! Weekly, the Triangle’s Indy Week, Asheville’s Mountain Xpress and Charlotte’s Creative Loafing, as well as our own qnotes, to bring diversity to public discourse. On issues as wide-ranging as local zoning and taxes to same-sex marriage and immigrant rights, our state’s diverse media offer each of us the opportunity to learn more about important issues affecting our daily lives. News about these issues are very rarely one-sided. All of us have unique perspectives, opinions and experiences. We bring those perspectives with us when we debate controversial decisions being made by local or state government.
Diversity in media also helps to fill in the gaps larger media like daily newspapers or TV news stations might miss. If not for alternative news publications, the lives, successes, challenges and issues important to a variety of minorities, neighborhoods and communities might go unnoticed.
I believe wholeheartedly that having access to a diverse media is essential to the healthy, engaged involvement of citizens in our republic. As citizens, we can’t engage in healthy dialogue without listening to our opposition. Though we may vehemently disagree, we recognize that all people deserve to be heard and to have their rights to free speech and expression protected.
The Rhino Times, which once had a Charlotte edition, will be missed by many, I’m sure. Hopefully, its conservative thought and opinion will be able to live on digitally. We wish Hammer and his staff success with building a new model online. And, here in Charlotte, we wish continued success to the staff of PunditHouse.com, an online-only alternative, conservative news and commentary publication. We may disagree from time to time, but we stand united in our combined efforts to diversify our public thought and civic landscape.
The staff here at qnotes, like all other print media, are faced with our own set of unique challenges as we publish this anniversary issue marking the beginning of our 28th year of publishing. I confidently speak on behalf of all of our staff, advertisers, readers and supporters when I say that we are humbled to be able to have the continued privilege of serving a still-underrepresented LGBT community.
As we, with the rest of the media industry, continue to rise to the challenges of publishing in a digital age, I hope you will continue to offer your contributions, input, feedback and support — be it by penning contributions to the newspaper, continuing your loyal readership or by taking advantage of the print and online advertising opportunities that keep qnotes free and available to as wide an audience as possible.
With your continued support, we’ll be here, as we always have, chronicling the history and times of our LGBT community, saving it for future generations and providing you with the news and thought to keep our community strong and engaged. : :
[Ed. Note -- The original version of this editorial incorrectly noted how many years we have been in publication. We are celebrating our 27th anniversary but are entering our 28th, not our 27th, year of publication. We regret the error.]