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Q-Notes and Front Page merge
Two Carolina LGBT papers come together with more than 46 years of combined service

by David Moore . Q-Notes staff
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After decades of service to readers in both Carolinas, Q-Notes and The Front Page have become one. Announced publicly May 12, the merger has been years in the making and will offer readers across the two-state area access to more editorial material tailored to their specific regions.

“We’re very excited about this accomplishment,” says Q-Notes publisher Jim Yarbrough. “We’ve talked about doing it for years and it finally seemed like the time was right. This is great for readers across the Carolinas because of the new content we’ll be carrying and for the advertisers because of an expanded distribution base and our subscription service.”

Following the demise of a statewide LGBT newspaper published out of Charlotte in the 1970s called The Free Press, The Front Page began publishing in the Raleigh area in 1979.

“When that folded, there was nothing, really,” says Baxter. “Art [Sperry] and I talked a lot for several years about how change might happen for the gay community in North Carolina. We agreed that a statewide effort would be needed. In order for that to happen some dependable means of statewide communication would be needed. That’s how The Front Page got started.”

Over the next three decades The Front Page provided readers in North Carolina stories about local and national news and arts and entertainment.

Q-Notes, which started out in 1983 as a newsletter published by the LGBT umbrella/
fundraising organization Queen City Quordinators, jumped up to official newspaper status with its first edition published in June of 1986.

Baxter — who will come on board at Q-Notes as a contributing writer for each issue — admits he’s looking forward to putting on the wordsmith cap and tossing the business duties wayside.

“I was never particularly good at the business end of things, as anyone who knows me or The Front Page will tell you,” Baxter says wryly. “When I started the paper, I thought of it as a community service that would, hopefully, pay its own way and not take away scarce charitable dollars that were needed elsewhere. That was certainly the only possible model for publishing a newspaper here back when I started.

“But I would much rather write than anything else about the business. I look forward to not having to try to sell advertising, invoice, collect, pay vendors, upgrade equipment and all the rest. I’ve had a full-time job elsewhere for most of the years I published The Front Page, so it was always hard to find the time and energy to get everything that needed doing done.”

Yarbrough is enthusiastic about Baxter’s contribution to the merger and having another seasoned writer onboard covering LGBT issues in the region.

“I’ve followed Jim’s work for many years,” Yarbrough says. “Jim is a very talented writer and we’re lucky to get him. I’m looking forward to a long and successful, mutually beneficial relationship.”

For some readers in the area, the merger might be regarded as bittersweet — like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Baxter insists he’s not going away and his words will now be read more widely than ever — thanks to the expanded resources from the merger.

“It’s odd,” says Baxter. “I thought I would feel sad, but I don’t really. I’m ready to move on. There were times in the past when I thought of quitting, but I didn’t because I still thought that something like The Front Page was specifically needed in the Carolinas.
“I think that The Front Page’s era really ended before this, in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Certainly those were the peak years for the paper in terms of size and quality of content. But the internet has changed all that and so much information sharing and community building happens there now. Having two newspapers in a market this size is just redundant and unnecessary.

Lon time readers of The Front Page take heart — it’s not the end of an era — it’s the beginning of a new one.

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