Local papers take a hit

Local papers take a hit

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This week, LGBT media has taken a beating. Monday’s news that Window Media had closed, taking with it the Washington Blade and Atlanta’s Southern Voice, shocked many.

At both publications — 40 and 20 years old, respectively — employees were taken off guard by the announcement. It wasn’t so much the news itself, as employees knew the parent company was trying to sell the publications, but the suddenness of the closure.

In Atlanta, a note on the door greeted employees, stating they could retrieve their personal belongings on Wednesday. In Washington, D.C., the CFO and COO of Window Media met with staff to break the news.

The other publications involved were David magazine, 411 and the South Florida Blade, as well as the online-only Houston Voice.

While it’s true that LGBT media outlets, like non-gay media, have been undergoing significant changes since the advent of the Internet, this downfall smacks of mismanagement at the top levels.

Reportedly, Avalon Equity Group invested $7 million into Window Media — a figure the Small Business Administration does not expect to recover.

There are other murky details in the collapse. For instance, at the meeting on Monday with Blade staffers, the Window CFO and COO seemed to indicate the shutdown was not their decision, and resulted because the parent company was in receivership and Window was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, the SBA denied having any part in the shutdown, and no one has been able to find a bankruptcy filing — including the SBA, Department of Justice staff, (former) Blade reporters and PGN.

So far, the COO and CFO of Window Media have not disclosed their role in the shutdown, Avalon Equity Group founder David Unger isn’t talking and the staffs don’t know what really happened.

In D.C., the employees are doubly pissed, as they had put in a viable bid for the paper over the summer — and never heard back.

Their other concern is for the archives and computer files housed at the office. If they had known of an impending shutdown, they would have ensured the information would be transferred and saved. Presently, no one is sure who actually has ownership of the data (or they aren’t talking), and no one knows what will happen to the files.

Certainly, as mainstream media has become more inclusive of LGBT issues, the demand for gay media has changed. No longer is the local gay paper the only source of LGBT news. As sexual minorities come out online and in mainstream media, the source of LGBT information is diffused. And that’s a good thing. But it’s still the local LGBT paper that will cover the smaller happenings that impact the lives of the community in depth.

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