Amidst The Washington Blade's 40th anniversary celebrations comes this stunning news: the publication which covers the District's gay community has been shut down.
The Blade sent out the following message on Twitter at about 11:30 a.m.:
"Washington Blade, like all Window Media publications, is closing today. Thank you for your support. (Keep following us for developments.)"
Window Media, which claimed on its Web site that it was the nation’s largest gay newspaper group, published Washington Blade, Southern Voice, Houston Voice, South Florida Blade, David Atlanta and The 411 Magazine.
Laura Douglas-Brown, editor of Southern Voice newspaper in Atlanta, told the Associated Press that she arrived at work Monday to find the locks changed and a note saying parent company Window Media LLC has closed down.
Web site Project Q Atlanta published a note it said was found on the front door of the offices of Southern Voice and David Atlanta. The note was from Window executives:
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.
Blade editor Kevin Naff called the closing of the publication a "tremendous loss." He said Blade staff members are already talking about forming a new publication.
"The Blade's been and integral part of the community for 40 years," Naff said. "The good news I can share is that we're not going away. The staff will be meeting [Tuesday] morning to launch a new publication.
“It will be employee owned. There’s a very healthy business to be had there, and we will make a very good go of it.”
Blade online editor Rebecca Armendariz was at the Blade's headquarters Monday morning, exiting the building with a box full of personal belongings. She was still in shock over the abrupt ending to the 40-year-old publication.
“It's been coming, but the fact that it came out of nowhere today … really … I was stunned,” she said.
Naff was equally as shocked when he heard the news Monday morning.
“Sure, there have been warning signs," Naff said. "Nothing that would suggest this. But yes, there have been warning signs.”