I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the shocking closure of the Washington Blade has a back story that illuminates that it wasn’t just a matter of a publication’s parent company, Window Media, in financial trouble.
Two pieces look at this. Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV takes a look at the increasing amount of questions being raised.
Nicholas F. Benton is among the many shocked over the sudden closure of the legendary gay newspaper, the Washington Blade. But Benton’s shock goes deeper: he intended to buy the Blade precisely to avoid it being shut down as part of a larger receivership process.
Benton, the openly gay owner of the DC-area Falls Church News-Press weekly, told LGBT POV that he had won a bid through his corporation, Benton Communications, Inc., to purchase the Washington Blade in order to maintain its 40-year legacy and keep what many consider the LGBT newspaper “of record” functioning in the nation’s Capitol.
Though the negotiations for the buyout of the Blade involved the federal Small Business Administration (see Duncan Osborne’s excellent reporting on the SBA connection for the Gay City News here), Benton said he was not informed about the closure. Benton said:
I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if they [the SBA] knew if it was coming, themselves. My attorney is not in touch with anyone except the Window Media bankruptcy lawyer – they were working out the plan and it was almost completely finalized. The bankruptcy court proceeding included this sale as part of it. And my lawyer said he [the bankruptcy attorney] was clueless. I think Window Media shut themselves down.”
Meanwhile, over at the OutQ News Blog, Lisa Keen also reports that the owners called the shots in the decision to shut down the Blade and Southern Voice.
Small Business Administration spokesperson Mike Stamler acknowledged the SBA did receive “offers” to buy the two papers from Window Media and its business ally Unite Media. But, Stamler said, the decision to decline those offers was entirely left to Window Media and Unite, not the SBA.
In more positive news, former Blade editor Kevin Naff told LGBT POV that the staff of the publication is moving forward to continue independently.
The full staff met this morning and we’ve agreed to launch a new publication. A very modest version will debut Friday in print and online. In the meantime, we’re about to debut a web site, savetheblade.com, where people can go to help or find related information. We’ve chosen a name for the publication but our lawyers are doing trademark/copyright searches now so I’m not quite ready to announce it. We will host a party tomorrow night, 6-8 pm, at the Hard Rock Cafe DC. Locals who want to share a memory or get involved in some way can meet the staff at that time.