Thursday, October 09, 2008

One Less GLBT Newspaper?

It certainly looks it.

The future of the New England Blade is in question after the publishers announced last week that the print edition of the paper was going on an indefinite hiatus. It is uncertain whether the Blade will resume publishing, and no one from the Blade or its parent company, New York-based HX Media, returned calls from Bay Windows to comment for this story. The notice about the hiatus, published on the Blade website, came days after rumors about financial turmoil at the paper made their way through the LGBT blogosphere (see "Blade publisher disputes rumors of financial trouble," Oct. 2).
There's a few worries here:

  • For various reasons, it's getting tougher for GLBT publications to survive. The Blade is by no means unique.

  • Getting bought out by a larger company, and changing the local entity's name/brand, isn't likely to increase profits and is very likely to hurt them. In Newsweekly was a brand with brand-name recognition, The Blade was entirely new to this area. It's not quite Macy's buying Filene's, but that's the gist of it.

  • Blogs aren't helping the weekly, issue-based papers either. While mainstream daily papers are somewhat safe from blogospheric competition, issue-specific, small weekly papers may be more at risk to blogs. Witness the fact that Bay Windows didn't break The Blade story, it was a blog.

  • Even more important, though, is the fact that the issue-specific papers are just as necessary. Bay Windows didn't break the story, but they followed up on it in ways that a single blogger couldn't (and that blogger was a former professional).

  • I'm not sure if dead trees is still the future for glbt news, but the internet just isn't profitable enough to pay for a staff. Internet ads don't deliver the same bang for the buck as ads in print, for whatever insane reason (they should). Something has to be done about that before we could have papers that exist mainly online and are capable of employing full staffs, or anything close to it.

Sign me up as willing to discuss how to make sure that issue-based, weekly papers not only stay affloat, but actually become more profitable. Writing blogs is great, but the Mass blogs can't replace an entire news outlet in Massachusetts, even a small one like the few remaining glbt papers.

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