Commentary: Life After #VOTY2020

#VOTY2020 has been named. But, the editorial calendar is not over.

V&R runs a December-to-November editorial calendar every year. It was designed to accommodate the #VOTY process. Since 2020 made things more interesting, the #VOTY was moved up to make room for more pressing issues in this country. 

I get that everyone is burned out by division, the electoral campaign, and the overall mood of the USA. We're even fatigued by the pandemic. Yet, my mission this year was to create distractions to help ease the mood and tension seen all around us. 

After #VOTY2020, we need to keep on moving forward. We need to concentrate on what makes us happy. What we can do to ease our own tensions and fears. To stay safe and healthy. 

Believe me, it’s easier said than done. 

For me, it is looking forward. To always looking ahead to new opportunities. To keep up the momentum of the rising traffic this site has experienced in 2020. To celebrate the benchmarks made this year in terms of content. 

Sometimes the path I take in creating this content will take to some different places. The usual “lane” of an automotive journalist can be limiting. This year enabled me to expand the content base to include observations of how we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic – with an anchor in the automotive world. 

This continuous search for new ideas to present to you and the other readerships of the outlets I write for can take me to some new places. For example, I saw that AARP was offering a fellowship for journalists and freelancers to attend the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association national convention – virtually – at no cost. I applied for it – then, got accepted. 

The organization and this event were something that was on my radar for the past 19 years. 

Normally, I would have to be a member to attend this convention of fellow LGBT journalists and content creators. 

It seems appropriate that the primary organization for older Americans would sponsor this fellowship, knowing that a 56-year-old gay automotive journalist from the Twin Cities would possibly attend. For that reason, I attended a mandatory session that was sponsored by AARP on COVID-19, unemployment, and aging LGBT people. 

What does this have to do with being an automotive journalist/content creator? One hope was to connect with other NLGJA members – in particular, in the Twin Cities. 

I can also report that I was the only journalist/freelancer that covers the automotive industry to attend this year’s national convention. It is also worth noting that Toyota was a sponsor and a virtual exhibitor there. 

But, why do this now? Why did I not leap to the chance at joining NJGLA back in 2001? For one, it was expensive to join at the time. Although, I could have joined since I was a managing editor for the predecessor to the current Illinois Eagle website back then. 

After 19 years of consideration, I discovered through the experience of the virtual national convention that I would not be a good fit for membership into NLGJA. 

Talking with one of their staffers, the nature of the work I do is completely different than the majority of the 900 members of this organization. They are newsroom folks. They are members because of the resources available to ensure proper coverage of LGBT community issues. 

Automotive journalists do things a bit differently. Some of us gather news from the industry to parse to our readers. We have our beats within the industry. We also evaluate the latest products and do similar content, as well. 

I also found it interesting that not only the local outlet I write for do not have any members. The local chapter of this organization is dormant here in the Twin Cities. 

I suppose I will continue being a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. They have been wonderful for the past eight years by presenting various opportunities to engage with other colleagues and the industry. It’s probably better to "stay in my lane."

And, move forward. 

All photos by Randy Stern

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