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Not just for hookups anymore: Grindr is now a media company, too

Zach Stafford and Trish Bendix explain why Grindr is publishing a queer lifestyle magazine called Into, on the latest Recode Decode.

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the Grindr app icon on a mobile screen Leon Neal / Getty Images

The killer feature of the dating app Grindr is that it tracks the location of its users — primarily gay men — helping them find each other in places that might not be openly LGBT-friendly. Now the editors of Into, a Grindr-published queer lifestyle magazine, are finding that that capability is good for more than just finding a weekend fling.

“When Roy Moore was up for the special election, we realized, ‘Oh, there are thousands of Grindr users in Alabama that may not be voting this round,’” Into editor in chief Zach Stafford said on the latest episode of Recode Decode. “So we did this really intense, well-reported piece about why Roy Moore is really dangerous, and blasted it to Alabama, which hit at least 10,000 users.”

“We get to push content in a place that people go to for desire,” he added. “I think desire is a great place to start changing people’s lives, changing how they think about the world.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Speaking with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Casey Newton alongside his colleague, Into managing editor Trish Bendix, Stafford said the goal of Into is to expand Grindr’s brand and eventually become a self-sustaining business.

With a team of 12 full-time employees and dozens of freelance contributors, Into publishes a mix of general interest and locally targeted reporting. Their stories are available on the magazine’s website, but Stafford said most readers see it in the Grindr app, which has 3.3 million users every day.

“We did something in Mexico City around how do you have a Pride experience that isn’t being catered to in this one space?” he said. “We worked with writers on the ground and then we pushed it through the app in those areas, so people could actually utilize it. So, many days, it feels like service journalism. I always think of it as global reporting but local delivery.”

On the new podcast, Bendix talked about why she joined Into just a few weeks ago, after nearly 10 years at After Ellen, a site that chronicles lesbian and bisexual representation in the media. In her new role, she has been tasked with bringing in more non-male voices to the magazine.

“Queer women never get access to the kind of budgets, advertising revenue — the kinds of things that we can benefit from,” Bendix said. “That’s what I’m trying to impart to other LGBTQ women: ‘Yes, I understand why you might be trepidatious. Grindr is the owner of this, but we are actively able to utilize these things for the betterment and more visibility of ourselves.’”

She noted that, coming from a background of writing about queerness in pop culture, she sees Into as a platform to tell stories about a wide range of topics “through a queer lens.”

“I want to actively speak to something that’s more queer, even if it’s not, ‘Tell me about a lesbian kiss you had in this television show,’” Bendix said. “I’ve done that! I did that at After Ellen, but now I want to do something bigger than that.”

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