Mark Segal was inducted into the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual convention Aug. 24 in Boston.
In addition to Segal, NLGJA posthumously inducted Bob Ross, the founder and former publisher of the Bay Area Reporter.
The Hall of Fame was launched in 2005 and has since honored 25 other leaders in the journalism field.
Segal founded PGN in 1976, with encouragement from figures like Pittsburgh Gay News’ Jim Austin, activist Frank Kameny and journalism vets Zack Stalberg and Richard Aregood.
He said he was also guided by media pioneer Walter Cronkite, after the two struck up an unlikely friendship following Segal’s protests of CBS’ coverage of LGBT issues.
PGN started as a monthly publication but quickly became a weekly, and is now one of the oldest and largest LGBT publications in the nation.
Segal said that, when he launched PGN, he would not have been able to predict its success.
“Never did I expect that PGN would become the journalism juggernaut that it is today,” he said. “I’m so proud of the incredible people I get to work with each day.”
He added that the paper has been able to thrive nearly four decades largely because it operates under the standards of a professional media outlet.
“It has been our belief that we are not just an LGBT newspaper but rather a professional newspaper that serves the LGBT community,” he said, noting that PGN has also sought to evolve with the ever-changing media industry. “It’s a time for all media to recognize that we are in a time of change, and that is exciting. We need to be innovative, and that has been a key to PGN remaining strong.”
NLGJA president Jen Christensen said Segal and Ross “created two of our most well-respected and enduring LGBT publications in the country, and also bravely showed mainstream publications how to give our community the thoughtful respect and coverage it deserved at a time when only stereotypes and shallow reporting were the norm.”
Segal said he was “completely overtaken” upon learning he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I’m usually very good at LGBT community intel, but the secret Blue Ribbon panel did not let it slip,” he said.
Segal delivered his acceptance speech Saturday night before hundreds of his colleagues in the LGBT journalism field.
While he said he was initially nervous about the event, those fears dissipated as he launched into sharing his storied career with the room.
“After getting over that it was in an elegant ballroom, on a raised stage with an audience of my peers, my nervousness disappeared and I just shared my 38 years,” he said. “I believe I hid my emotions well but it was one of the humblest moments of my life. The only problem is that I now have to live up to that honor. But we have a great team here at PGN that will help me do that.”