Well, it’s a “shock” only if you haven’t been paying attention to the gay media world of late. Window Media — which publishes the Southern Voice, Washington Blade, South Florida Blade, 411 Magazine, Houston Voice, David Magazine, and the already-dead Genre — abruptly closed up shop over the weekend.
With dozens of employees across the country, the publisher told its Atlanta employees it was closing by posting a brief notice on its front door. The websites of its publications remain online, though fresh content is absent. And the decision appears to affect all of Window’s publications, not just the Atlanta-based titles.
It appears this is the final chapter in the long-storied history of Window Media, after failing to survive federal receivership, the exit of (fib-telling) publisher David Unger, and a failed attempt to unload the company’s properties.
In July we relayed a report that the Small Business Association — which placed Window Media in receivership after the company failed to meet the federal agency’s lending requirements — could shut down the company by the end of that month. It appears Window survived a little big longer than imagined.
So many LGBT Americans turned to Window’s publications — often before they were absorbed into the publisher’s umbrella — for the latest digest on local gay news, events, and attacks on the community. These papers were, unarguably, invaluable and this website and its readers have benefited directly from them. When it comes to hyper-local reporting, the various Blade titles were the biggest game in town.
While the executives running the company may not be, the titles will surely be missed.
The note posted at Window’s Atlanta offices:
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.
Less than an hour ago,
Window posted this to its Facebook page Southern Voice editor Laura Douglas-Brown posted this to Facebook:
With deepest regret, as editor of SoVo, I have to tell you that we arrived at the office to learn that our parent company, Window Media, has shut down. While the 20 years of SoVo have come to an end, our civil rights movement is only beginning. I am personally grateful to all of the staff, and to all of you who have had the courage to share your stories. It has been the honor of my life to help you tell them.
UPDATE: The Washington Blade is among the papers closing, the paper confirms via Twitter. But its editor Kevin Naff, who was named editor of Genre as the magazine was folding, tells Politico there’s something independent in the works: “The Blade staff is united and ready to continue the paper’s long-standing mission. The first meeting for our new venture is Tuesday and we welcome the community’s input as we move forward.”
UPDATE 2: We hear Window’s means of notifying employees — locking them out of their offices — didn’t just go down in Atlanta, but in Ft. Lauderdale and Washington D.C. as well.
UPDATE 3: Having just celebrated 40 years of publishing, this is what the Washington Blade looks like now:
Amanda Hess has more details as the staff packs up.