The company that owns the Southern Voice and Washington Blade homosexual newspapers has closed down, instructing employees in a terse statement posted on a locked front door they should be prepared to bring boxes to retrieve their personal belongings.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the shutdown affects publications owned by Window Media LLC, which was forced into receivership by the Small Business Administration months ago.
Among the publications hit with the closing were the Southern Voice in Atlanta and the Washington Blade.
Voice editor Laura Brown told the Journal-Constitution the closure happened over the weekend, and employees arrived at the Atlanta offices of the Voice today to find locked doors and a posted statement on the door.
“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,” the statement said.
The statement was signed by co-presidents Steve Myers and Mike Kitchens, who have been running the company.
The company’s other products included South Florida Blade, the 411 Magazine and David Atlanta.
The posted note also instructed workers to return Wednesday and “bring boxes and/or containers that will allow you to collect all your personal belongings at one time.”
Newspaper websites were shut down, providing readers with an error message.
According to the blogger on ProjectQAtlanta, Ryan Lee, the editor of David Atlanta, posted on his personal Facebook page, “Very sad this morning. Awoke to horrible news and am tryin (sic) to maintain peace within me. But it’s painful right now.”
Edge Boston editor Steve Weinstein called the move a “stunning development for gay media.”
Weinstein said the company had been trying to assemble a
national chain of homosexual newspapers.
He reported the company has had problems from the general print media industry crisis, on which WND has reported.
The president called himself a “news junkie” in a Sept. 18 Oval Office interview with editors from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade.
“Journalistic integrity, you know, fact-based reporting, serious investigative reporting, how to retain those ethics in all these different new media and how to make sure that it’s paid for, is really a challenge,” Obama told the reporters. “But it’s something that I think is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy.”
Newspapers are struggling to retain readership and advertising returns lost to Internet-based publications. Obama’s statements came on the heels of an Associated Press report that Freedom Communications, publisher of the Orange County Register in California and dozens of other newspapers, was seeking bankruptcy protection.
Freedom is at least the 10th newspaper publisher to file for bankruptcy protection in the past year, according to the report. Other publishers still in bankruptcy proceedings include owners of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
This year, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed their print editions without even attempting bankruptcy. The Post-Intelligencer continues as an Internet-based publication only. Triple Crown Media, operator of six dailies and one weekly newspaper in Georgia, also filed for bankruptcy protection.
The Columbia Journalism Review has reported newspaper industry ad revenue has now dipped to 1965 levels.
Newspaper advertising plummets (Illustration: Columbia Journalism Review)
Amid the newspaper decline, more Americans are looking to the Internet for their information. Obama said the trend worries him.
“I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding,” he said.
He told reporters, “What I hope is that people start understanding if you’re getting your newspaper over the Internet, that’s not free and there’s got to be a way to find a business model that supports that.”
Obama said he would be “happy to look at” bills before Congress that would give struggling newspapers tax breaks if they restructure as nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations similar to public broadcasting.