Washington Blade’s Final Hours; SoVo’s Staff Lament

A great report from the Washington City Paper‘s Amanda Hess from inside the Blade’s National Press Club building offices as staff members pack up after news that the Blade has been shut down.

Reporters have been calling the office all morning in search of a comment, having only heard confirmation of the paper’s closure via Tweet. Finally, Editor-In-Chief Kevin Naff comes outside to make a comment. Hold on—he has to pee. When he returns from the bathroom, he addresses reporters in front of the Blade’s glass-enclosed offices. Inside, a couple of Window Media staffers can be seen shuffling around a glass conference room, hard at work dismantling the newspaper. One of them wears an eye-patch. “I can’t speak on behalf of the company, and I can’t speak here,” Naff says. So the group heads around the corner, where Naff stands in front of another large window looking in on Window brass. “You can refer to me as the former editor of the Blade,” Naff says.

As reported elsewhere in the City Paper, Hess confirms that the Blade will no longer exist, but that Blade staffers will start a new publication in the coming days.

The Blade as a standalone publication runs a profit; however, not enough of a profit to keep its debt-troubled parent company, Window Media, in the black. According to Naff, Window is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protections, which means that it’s ceasing operations. Naff said that he was expecting Chapter 11, which would have allowed the company to restructure.

So what Naff and Blade Publisher Lynne Brown are trying to do is essentially replicate the Blade without the debt load.

The staffers sure won’t be wasting any time finishing up old Blade business: They were given till 3 pm today to pack up. When asked if the company was handling the shutdown in a professional manner, Naff responded, “I should probably not comment.”

With the future even less certain in Atlanta, ProjectQAtlanta has been covering the reaction to the closure of the Southern Voice.

Employees who stuck out hard times over the last several years and were still employed at Window Media began to make their feelings known via online messages as well.

Among some dozen statements from people who worked at the paper up until Monday’s closing, respected editor Laura Douglas-Brown posted a general message on her personal Facebook page that expressed how touched she is by the sheer volume of the outpouring.

“… heartbroken and grateful. To everyone who has reached out to me today after the news that SoVo has shut down, you will never know how much your support means to me, and I will try to respond to as many as possible. I am deeply honored to have been able to work with such a dedicated team and to cover such a vibrant community. Keep fighting, and thank you.

John Nail, production manager at the paper over two other graphic designers, hinted on Facebook that the news may have been a shock on this particular day, but not a complete surprise.

“That dreaded day we feared has finally come: Window Media has ceased operations, closing down Southern Voice and David magazine. There’s much that can be said—about the gay community losing its Voice, about how the staff found out, about being unemployed—but I’ll just say that it’s a very sad day.”

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