UPDATED AT THE END
Disturbing news this morning. Window Media--the Publisher of the Washington Blade, the South Florida Blade, the Houston Voice, the Southern Voice, David Atlanta and 411 Magazine--has officially closed its top publications: The Southern Voice, David Atlanta and the Washington Blade.
At publishing time I had not received any confirmation on Houston Voice or The South Florida Blade's closure (both their websites were down once again, most likely due to high traffic), though an update on Fresh Loaf from former Southern Voice Editor Lauren Douglass-Brown confirms that all Window Media publications are affected.
The Blade website has been up and down all morning, presumably because of increased traffic from this story, but their Twitter feed officially confirmed the bad news:
More after the jump.
Project Q Atlanta reported on the "NOTICE" that employees at the Southern Voice found on the door this morning:
It is with GREAT regret that we must inform you that effective immediately, the operations of Window Media, LLC and Unite Media, LLC have closed down.
Please return to this office on WEDNESDAY, November 18th, 2009 at 11:00 AM to collect personal belongings and to receive information on your separation stipulations. Please bring boxes and/or containers that will allow you to collect all your personal belongings at one time.
For more coverage of this sad story, check out Chris Geidner's LawDork updates.
UPDATES: (SEE UPDATE FIVE FOR NEWS ABOUT 411'S CONTINUED PUBLISHING)
UPDATE 1: An anonymous commenter over at the Queerty piece on this debacle has revealed that they have some insider information on the future of some of the Window Media Publications.
THE FLORIDA PUBLICATIONS WILL CONTINUE TO PUBLISH!!!! THIS WAS IN THE WORKS FOR QUITE SOME TIME. MULTIMEDIA PLATFORMS, LLC WILL IMMEDIATELY CONTINUE TO PUBLISH THE MAGAZINE AND NEWSPAPER, UNDER NEW NAMES STARTING IMMEDIATELY. VIRTUALLY ALL EMPLOYEES OF 411 AND SF BLADE WILL BE HIRED AND THE PUBLICATIONS WILL EXPERIENCE A NAME CHANGE ONLY. 411 MAGAZINE WILL OUT THIS WEEK AND THE NEW MAGAZINE, MARK'S LIST MAGAZINE WILL BE DISTRIBUTED FOR THANKSGIVING. THE FORMAT WILL BE THE SAME. ONLY THE NAME WILL CHANGE.
UPDATE 2: Gay City News, out of New Jersey/NYC, published a report on Window Media's financial woes way back in February; but as dire predictions did not come true, many in the LGBT bloggosphere seemed to let the story go quiet. Way back in August 2008, however, Window Media's future seemed unsustainable as their primary investor, Avalon Equity Fund, were forced into Receivership. Unfortunately, they were unable to pull out of their financial hole, it seems.
UPDATE 3: Our own (and the South Florida Blade's own) Father Tony has revealed that Mark's List has recently been working very closely with FLBlade and 411 Magazine, and would be a likely suitor if the publications will continue in the future.
UPDATE 4: According to Progressive DC Blog, DCist, unlike the Southern Voice (see above), Washington Blade employees had a bit of a warning. They were called this morning and allowed to come in to clean out their desks today:
UPDATE: "We just found out this morning that we were shutting down completely and that we all lost our jobs," Blade staffer and DCist contributor Amy Cavanaugh tells us via email. "It's kind of crazy."
Amy said that unlike in Atlanta, where Southern Voice staffers reportedly discovered their offices were locked up today with no warning, Blade staffers got called this morning and informed that the paper was closing, and were allowed to come in and clean out their desks. They don't expect to be allowed back inside the building after today, Amy said.
UPDATE 5: Mark's List has confirmed that in fact 411 Magazine will continue publishing under the name Mark's List Magazine starting in the next issue. The features in Mark's List Magazine will remain the same as in 411 Magazine, merely under the new name. If word becomes available that there will be other changes, that will come under the update here.
UPDATE 6: Bilerico Contributor Karen Ocamb, spoke with Blade Editor Kevin Naff about the future of the Washington Blade.
Naff said the staff is "united and all sticking together" and they will meet tomorrow to make plans for launching a new venture. Naff said:
"We hope to re-emerge as a new entity without all the Window Media baggage."
Naff said he and Blade publisher Lynne Brown have already been discussing launching a new venture and believe they have funding. Naff said:
"We will re-emerge as a leaner, meaner operation without all the very expensive suite of offices. We're going to shed some of that corporate trappings. And we will re-emerge as a leaner operation that will make money on day one."
Naff said that the new venture would be both print and online and noted that the MSM Politico "didn't make money as an online news site only. "They did a print edition and suddenly they were in the black."
Naff went on to note to Ocamb that they would ideally like to be up and printing by next week, but may have to hold of a bit longer because of the holiday. We will likely know more after tomorrow's staff regrouping. As of today, I'm sure the Blade staff is understandably busy stimulating the Washington pub and tavern economy.
Please visit Karen's post on this matter, as her coverage is exhaustive. Come back here for constant updates.
UPDATE 7: If you're still keeping up with this story, Towleroad has assembled a hodgepodge of other angles on this--including speculation about what will happen to the paper's archives.
EVEN MORE INTERESTING is this piece in 365gay.com about how the Blade was all but saved by the Falls-Church News-Press owner (and National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce member), Nicholas F. Benton--but that the paper was closed under his nose without notice, despite his having been informed he had won his bid for it.
Why doesn't the Small Business Administration want to talk? Why did they accept Benton's offer for the Blade and then close it anyway, without letting him know?
UPDATE 8: Bil has uncovered a little more information. What is going on? Why didn't Window's investors want to sell?
UPDATE 9: The Blade may be going to print under a new name on Friday. The Advocate has more details, and we are likely to know for sure tonight after the Blade's Hard Rock Event in DC.
UPDATE 10: THE BLADE--BACK IN BUSINESS AS DC AGENDA! According to the Advocate, The Blade staff is bringing their newest iteration of the iconic institution to the presses on December 4 for weekly breakdown of Beltway goings-on.