Sunday, November 22, 2009

Washington Blade Staff Publishes New GLBT Weekly

The former staff of the Washington Blade has managed to knock out a new gay paper in less than a week, and everyone is holding their breath.

The DC Agenda appeared on newstands Friday, less than a week after gay publisher Window Media shuttered the most established GLBT publication in America, after four decades of life.

Window's Chapter 7 bankruptcy also sealed the fate of six LGBT newspapers, including the Atlanta-based gay weekly Southern Voice, as well as the Houston Voice, David Atlanta, South Florida Blade and 411 Magazine. The company closed down three additional properties over the summer: HX Magazine, the New York Blade and monthly glossy Genre.

No word yet on the others, but South Florida is promising a new life with a biweekly Blade. 411, a gay bar guide, will republish as Mark's List Magazine. The staff from one mag joined a new corporate entity and is back to work.

Kevin Naff, as DC Agenda's new editor, says he is buoyed by an outporing of community support. He will need it. Publishing a paper costs a small fortune. I know, because like Kevin, I am trying to do the impossible and bring South Florida's 'Express Gay News' back to life. I am not encouraged by a prospect of a small non-news based biweekly for Florida's large and diverse gay community. I think our community deserves better.

Window Media's troubles began soon after they received a $39 million Small Business Administration loan which was squandered on a series of misguided acquisitions. But why did the company choose to liquidate the DC and South Florida Blade when several suitors had put money on the table and placed it in escrow? Were taxpayers not screwed? Did the SBA fall down on their job.

Nicholas F. Benton, owner the Virginia-based weekly the Falls Church News-Press, told New York-based Gay City News that he had won a September bid to buy the Blade. So too did a new corporate entity win that right in Florida. The SBA said the decision to liquidate did not come from them. Maybe so, but they dropped the ball. Had they executed more expeditiously on the sales, maybe all these papers find continuity. Now it's a roll of the dice with startups.

“SBA has not been a part of any decision not to sell these newspapers. SBA supported the sale of the newspaper assets owned by Window. It was SBA, acting as receiver, that solicited offers to purchase the newspapers, and passed the offers it received to Window/Unite Media,” Michael Stamler, an SBA spokesman, said in an email to Gay City News. They have a great piece on the foreclosure here:
And some complaints with what went down:

The first edition of the DC Agenda is modest. Publisher Lynne Brown, and its 18-person staff, presumably working for free at the moment, have their work cut out for them. It is a struggle not for news, which there is a wealth of, but for revenues, which newspapers are finding there is a dirth of. So good luck to all the staffers, who wrote this week "their mission continues." May it indeed do so.
Meanwhile, it sure looks like the SBA dropped the ball.

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