This is not the way to save a gay newspaper: Begging readers for cash contributions. As Window Media’s collapse brought down The Southern Voice, one-time owner Chris Cash (who sold the paper to Window in 1997) and former editor Laura Douglas-Brown are on a mission to create a new Atlanta-based gay rag. They’re going about it the wrong way.
SaveSoVo.com is a placeholder for whatever may become of the newspaper’s mission and staff. There, they’re looking for donations from SoVo supporters to help get their project off the ground. (They’ve also scored a matching grant from Atlanta activist Lloyd Russell’s foundation; it’s just $12,000.) “As of today,” writes Douglas-Brown, “we have a mailbox, a bank account, and a domain name — www.savesovo.com — that mark the official public start of our efforts.”
That’s great! But we’re a bit wary with this “rely on the goodwill of readers to survive” strategy. We’ve got nothing wrong with Cash and Douglas-Brown’s “community-owned-and-operated” model. Former Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff is trying the “employee-owned-and-operated” style with D.C. Agenda. And for a newspaper like SoVo, and its successor, that serves a local niche community more than most papers, it’s a laudable plight to count on local readers who care about the newspaper.
But it’s not good business sense. (Nor is making readers hunt for a donate button; SaveSoVo.com hides its PayPal button behind another link on the homepage.)
If a post-SoVo paper is to thrive, there will be outside cash, or investment from Cash and Douglas-Brown themselves. That’s why the South Florida Blade, also closed amidst Window’s collapse, is turning to Mark’s List owner Multimedia Platforms to keep its mission going. Producing a printed newspaper is already a risky undertaking; producing one without external resources is a suicide mission. But hey, prove us wrong.