Karen Ocamb is an award-winning journalist with over 37 years of experience spanning print, broadcast and online media. Her career began in 1973, as a desk assistant at CBS News in New York; during the next eleven years, Karen worked with and learned from such legendary journalists as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer. She is currently News Editor at Frontiers In LA, the largest LGBT publication in Southern California.
Karen’s work in LGBT media began in the late 1980s, after she came out as a lesbian. During the height of the AIDS crisis, as beloved friends were dying, she felt a personal responsibility to provide valuable information and insight to the community, where she would refocus her professional talents. Karen considers news “a civil right” because, she says,
“The right to vote is the great equalizer in America. But responsible voting requires an informed electorate and too often the LGBT community and people with HIV/AIDS must rely on information from a culturally incompetent media. That’s unfair and must be counter-balanced with an LGBT or alternative point of view.”
Karen launched LGBT | POV in September 2009, and quickly saw blogging was a perfect medium for her well-researched and contextualized newswriting.
“I may be a bit addicted to those ‘a-ha!’ moments when connections are made and your point of view (POV) is altered … As Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner so beautifully describe in ‘The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe,’ one of the best ways to get goosebumps is by sharing those connections through thought or emotion, or trying to describe the ineffable magical experience of being awestruck by love, nature or art.”
Over the years, Karen has broken many significant LGBT news stories. She conducted the first LGBT interviews with then-presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown in 1991, along with an extensive interview with Hillary Clinton. Her 2007 article about New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, then a Democratic presidential candidate — who used the word maricÃ³n (“faggot,” in Spanish) on a national radio show — led to Richardson’s public apology. Karen’s 2006 investigation into how toddler Sarah Chavez was torn from the lesbian couple that wanted to adopt her, and placed with relatives who were later charged with her murder, rocked the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services. Her coverage in 2003 of the former director of the LA County Office of AIDS Programs & Policy’s alleged use of favoritism in granting AIDS services contracts, was a wake-up call for the LGBT/AIDS community and LA County health deputies.
In 2001, when Karen served on the board of directors for the Los Angeles Press Club, she founded the LA Sunshine Coalition, which advocated for transparency and open government issues. She led the group through 2004, testifying before the LA County Board of Supervisors on the need for a “Sunshine Ordinance,” and helped produce journalism and educational panels on open government sponsored by the LA Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Since 2008, Karen has covered the Proposition 8 story in California in depth across multiple media — including a live broadcast on Michelangelo Signorile’s Sirius XM Radio show from a Prop. 8 protest in front of the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles on the day after that historic vote. Karen also contributed a chapter about Prop. 8 to a new book, Obama and the Gays, published in September 2010.
As a freelance journalist, Karen has written for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, The Advocate, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. Prior to her tenure at Frontiers In LA, Karen served as news manager and producer at Gaywired.com; was LA news editor for the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times; and was a regular columnist for Genre magazine and contributor to the Bay Area Reporter. Karen also served as producer and host of “Vantage Point,” a public access show in Los Angeles on Century Cable (now Time Warner Cable) that featured women journalists.
Karen is often sought out by the media to serve as an expert on LGBT issues, and has appeared on television (“Entertainment Tonight”) and radio (NPR/KCRW’s “Which Way, LA?” with Warren Olney, OutQ Radio on Sirius XM Radio), and has been quoted in publications such as Newsweek, Variety, LA Weekly and MS Magazine.
- Twenty Most Powerful Lesbians in American Politics | DavidMixner.com (2010)
- Rainbow Key Award | Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, City of West Hollywood (2010)
- Founder’s Award | In the Meantime Men (2010)
- People of the Year | LA Weekly (2008)
- City Award | City of Los Angeles (2008)
- Civic & Community Service Award | 24th Annual Creative Business Awards (2007)
- Honoree | National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association (2004)
- Woman of the Year | Christopher Street West (2004)
- Jewel Thais-Williams Excellence in Media Award | Jewel’s Catch One (2003)
- Beacon Award | First Amendment Coalition (2002)
- “Maggie” Award (for “Insane Asylum,” about gays escaping oppression in foreign countries) | Western Publishers Association (2002)
- Commendation for Ten Years of Work | City of West Hollywood (2001)
- Media Award | Stonewall Democratic Club (1999)
- Special Award | L.A. Newspaper Guild (1997)
- Grassroots Activist Award | LACE (Lesbians & bisexual women Active in Community Empowerment), LA Gay & Lesbian Center (1996)
- Commendation | City of West Hollywood (1984)
Karen at the “Matthew Shepard Human Rights Triangle” in West Hollywood, next to a monument that reads:
The City of West Hollywood Remembers:
“Queer Village In Protest”
On September 29, 1991, witnessed on this triangular median, were the first steps of two weeks of continuous, nightly, non-violent protest against Governor Pete Wilson’s unjust veto of AB 101, a bill designed to protect lesbians and gays in the workplace. Thousands of protesters took the streets, culminating in the March on Sacramento, October 11, 1991.