News (USA)

‘Washington Blade,’ gay publications fold in surprise company shutdown

Washington BladeThe Washington Blade, the weekly newspaper that chronicled the coming-out of the capital’s gay community, was born amid the idealism of 1960s street protests. Monday, the paper died, victim of the unforgiving realities of the nation’s sagging newspaper industry, reports The Washington Post.

The paper’s nearly two-dozen employees arrived at their downtown offices Monday, only to be ordered to clear out their desks by mid-afternoon.

Steven Myers, co-president of the paper’s owner, Atlanta-based Window Media, said the company also ceased operations at its other gay-oriented publications and websites, which include the Southern Voice newspaper and David magazine in Atlanta, and the South Florida Blade and 411 magazine in Florida.

“It’s a shock. I’m almost speechless, really,” said Lou Chibbaro Jr., a Blade reporter who has written for the newspaper since 1976, covering the full arc of the country’s gay-rights movement, from early marches through the rise of AIDS and on to the latest battles over legalizing same-sex marriage.

Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, said when he arrived to work Monday morning, he was met by two corporate officers from Window Media, notifying him that his paper would be shut down immediately.

“The bottom line was they filed for Chapter 7, which means liquidation,” Naff said. “I think a lot of us expected a Chapter 11 reorganization, but they didn’t go that route and I guess the creditors wanted out.”

Staffers of the Blade plan to meet Tuesday to organize an effort to revive the newspaper.

The Blade, founded in 1969, was considered one of the most influential publications written for a gay audience.

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