Michael Aaron

Stories of the Demise of Gay Publications…

Last week’s news of the 40-year-old Washington Blade and five other stalwart gay publications closing down was a jarring moment for us here in the office, but not one we were surprised to read. Contrary to popular belief, these pubs did not fail because they were not generating revenue or maintaining readership. They failed because, as other industries are seeing, a group was attempting to make a Walmart-style monopoly of gay periodicals … and failed.

Back in February, we heard that Window Media, the company which bought several New York, Georgia, Florida, Washington, D.C., and Texas newspapers and magazines, was in default of a Small Business Administration loan and was threatened with being put into receivership if it could not come up with half of the loan’s value in a short time. The company had taken out $38 million in loans from the SBA.

A selling spree began and the New York Blade and sister publication HX Magazine were sold off, but they went south anyway.

Money-bleeding Genre magazine was shuttered and put online-only.

An alternative newsweekly won the Washington Blade on auction and they promised that all staffers would maintain their jobs, the current offices would be maintained and the print schedule would remain unaffected. The talks of the changeover, however, ceased about a week before Blade employees were greeted with a note of closure on the door as they arrived for work that Monday. The new thought-to-be owners were as puzzled as the staff as to what happened.

You see, none of the existing publications was losing money. All were generating revenue beyond their expense. All were maintaining or even growing readership. But none, nor all, could absorb the huge debt that Window Media owners had taken out with the goal of buying even more titles.

The upside is that the staff of each publication are putting together replacements — some have already published. Nothing but the names are lost.

Since we began publishing in 2004, we have been approached by three separate organizations about being absorbed into their operations. None were a good fit for us, so I declined on each. Two of those organizations have since experienced large layoffs and cutbacks. The other is no longer in existence. Apparently I made the right decisions.

QSaltLake’s size, while a restriction in what we can provide, is its strength. We have maintained a very low overhead, learning from our past overstaffing and other extravagances. Aside from two maxed-out credit cards from back in the Salt Lake Metro days, we have zero debt. Well, unless you include me.

No, we’re not getting rich on QSaltLake, but we love what we are doing and get a great satisfaction that we are among the movers and shakers of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in this state.

We are dedicated to continuing our service to this community. We hope you are committed to keeping us here as well. Need advertising? Please call us. Reading what we toil to bring you each 14 days? Support our advertisers and thank them for bringing QSaltLake to you. Know of something going on that we should cover? Call or e-mail us. All of our contact info is on page two of each issue.

No stinking bad economy is gonna get us down. We refuse to participate in that game. We’ll just play harder. Care to play with us?

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