Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Washington Blade shuts down after 40 years

Collage of historical covers of the Washington...Image via Wikipedia
I'm sad to report that the nation's oldest LGBT newspaper, The Washington Blade and its sister paper, The Southern Voice, have gone out of business this week. Newspapers in general have been seeing a decline in readership over the last ten years as more and more readers turn to web-based news media. It's been even worse for what's considered a niche-market news outlet. The Blade web site has also been shut down.

According to the Blade's parent company Windows Media, they had been in negotiations with Falls Church News-Press owner Benton Media to purchase Windows Media. Hopes of a seamless transition of ownership fell through Monday when Benton's financing fell through.

OutQ News Blog reports:
"Small Business Administration spokesperson Mike Stamler acknowledged the SBA did receive “offers” to buy the two papers from Window Media and its business ally Unite Media. But, Stamler said, the decision to decline those offers was entirely left to Window Media and Unite, not the SBA.

The Small Business Administration has loaned 39 million dollars to the Avalon Equity Fund – an investment firm—and Avalon turned around and spent $7 million to buy a majority interest in Window Media and Unite Media to obtain an interest in those publishing companies.

The SBA did put Avalon into receivership when Avalon’s own assets dropped below a required level for its SBA loan, but it was Window and Unite that made the decision to cease publishing on November 15."
On a personal note, I will miss the Blade terribly. It was an important part of my coming out. Every Friday night, Charles and I would head out to LGBT book seller Lambda Rising at Dupont Circle to pick up a Blade to see what was going on around town at the bars, laugh at the personal ads and catch up on the latest LGBT news from around the country.

Back in September, 1992, I was the subject of a small Blade story when I called in to the Don & Mike Show on radio station WJFK for a brief comment that turned into a 20-minute interview. I wrote about it back in July, in a piece I called "The Accidental Activist".
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