50 years in 50 weeks: 2003: Founding publisher dies

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday November 17, 2021
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Photo: Courtesy B.A.R. Archive
Photo: Courtesy B.A.R. Archive

Bob Ross, the founding publisher of the Bay Area Reporter, died December 10, 2003 of complications from diabetes. He was 69. Ross, a gay man, rose from a chef to publishing the country's oldest and largest LGBTQ newspaper, as the December 18 issue of the paper noted. Mr. Ross started the B.A.R. in April 1971 with his friend, Paul Bentley, who left the venture after a few years, leaving Mr. Ross to oversee it. The newspaper grew in stature and influence over the years. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic, the B.A.R. was often the only source of news about the disease before it was covered in mainstream publications. After Mr. Ross' passing, the paper's longtime attorney, Thomas E. Horn, became publisher until 2013, when then-general manager Michael Yamashita took the reins. He later bought the paper, becoming one of the few gay people of color to own and oversee an LGBTQ publication. Today, the B.A.R. has survived the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to support from donors via a crowdfunding campaign and other grants. Most recently, it was announced November 16 that the B.A.R. is part of a Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge collaborative that includes five other queer publications. To read the issue, click here.

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