Washington Blade Publisher Window Media Shuts Down

Washington Blade out of print

Will the Washington Blade maintain Internet presence?

Will the Washington Blade maintain Internet presence?

The demise of the newspaper began long before the recession, and it will continue afterward. Newspaper publishers are finding it harder every day to compete with digital media. Window Media, which was the country’s largest publisher of gay newspapers, has shut down.

Window Media published the Washington Blade, a Washington, D.C., publication that celebrated its 40-year anniversary last month. Window Media owned several other publications, too, including the Southern Voice and David, both based in Atlanta, The Southern Florida Blade and 411 Magazine.

A dramatic exit

Apparently Window Media employees didn’t see this coming, and they showed up for work Monday only to find the locks changed and notes saying the newspapers would no longer operate and they could come back Wednesday to collect their things.

Rumor has it the Small Business Association had given Window Media’s biggest stakeholder, Avalon Equity Partners, $38 million in loans. When Avalon failed to come up with half that amount in private investments, the SBA placed Avalon in receivership.

Fuzzy details

SBA said Avalon was in receivership in February, and in July, Window CEO David Unger quit. There was some speculation that Unger was forced out by the SBA. It’s not clear exactly how Window media came to the decision that it should cease operations.

The Washington Blade staff reportedly will meet tomorrow to discuss a new venture, headed by the Washington Blade’s current editor, Kevin Naff. Members of staffs on the other Window-owned publications also have said they will try to continue to provide news on the gay communities in their areas.

State of the newspaper

Newspapers all over the country have been shrinking or shutting down in pretty high numbers for a few years now. The country’s biggest publisher, Gannett, completed huge layoffs this year.

This pattern will continue until newspapers can figure out a way to adapt their business models to capitalize on the Internet. It’s a rough transition for a very old industry, but necessary if news publications want to survive.

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