Tris Reid-Smith founded Gay Star News Ltd with Scott Nunn in 2011 and the site went into beta testing in December of that year before going fully live in January 2012. Gay Star News is based on over a decade of experience Tris and Scott have in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media.
A week’s worth of work experience at a local paper (the Weston Mercury in south-west England) at the age of 15 was enough to persuade Tris that journalism was fun even when the stories are about golden wedding anniversaries and flower shows.
At Reading University he did further internships and, skipping psychology lectures (his major), dedicated most of his days and nights to the student newspaper, Spark, which he edited with Tom Sandars – a broadcaster now working for the BBC. Tris still loves the smell of spraymount (glue in a can which they used for sticking pages down onto a web before sending them to the printers, this was 1995).
After graduating he spent most of the next year travelling around the world. His passions for the open road, going off the beaten track, maps and foreign countries help explain the thinking behind GSN. Like all good travellers he has a snake story, a poisonous spider story and a story about getting drunk in Bangkok.
On returning to Britain, he walked into his first full-time job as a local newspaper reporter for broadsheet weekly The Wokingham Times. He then moved on to daily tabloid the Reading Evening Post. These jobs gave him the opportunity to study for his journalism exams and he took the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ National Certificate Examination, the highest-level professional qualification for journalists in the UK. As well as tests in journalism and law, this forced him to learn shorthand, which is why he now has awful handwriting.
Fed up with a local reporter’s wage, and with a car about to fail it’s annual safety test, Tris moved to London to enjoy the benefits of a bigger gay scene, the tube network and a job as a reporter at the LGBT publication Pink Paper. Roughly ten month’s later, he was made the editor of Pink Paper, the day before the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
He negotiated the sale of PP to its current owners, MPG, and its relaunch as a tabloid newspaper. While at MPG he became managing editor of AXM – a glossy gay lifestyle magazine and Puffta, the gay youth website. He was then promoted again to group editor-in-chief, in overall responsibility for all titles, particularly monthly glossy GT (aka Gay Times), Pink Paper and lesbian magazine DIVA.
He had also become a regular commentator on LGBT issues in national and international media; television, radio, websites, newspapers, magazines.
But Tris – and his partner Scott Nunn – had seen the gap in the market for quality international LGBT journalism, delivered 24-7. So in March 2011, Tris left MPG and started to develop ideas for Gay Star News. Tris and Scott worked for seven months without a wage to get it ready to go live and invested all their savings in the business. They also had to raise major finance from investors in the UK and Hong Kong to finance GSN’s investment in content and site development.
Having been in gay media since December 2000, Tris is more convinced than ever that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender world needs quality news and information, written and edited by professional journalists. He hopes Gay Star News will inform, empower and entertain people all around the world – gay and straight.