Dull New York Blade

Written by Christopher Carbone on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.



Dull
Blade


If you were
looking to build a strong, local news-focused, free gay weekly in the gayest
and most media-saturated city in America, what would be the best way to go?
Maybe you merge with a larger newspaper conglomerate, significantly cut back
coverage of local news and culture, lay off or scare away talented editors and
writers and cut your freelance budget, while announcing what a tremendous service
you’re doing for gay New Yorkers.


That’s
been the m.o. since Window Media, an Atlanta-based company that owns six gay
publications, bought the Washington Blade and its younger sister publication,
the New York Blade, last May. The New York Blade, which had trouble
standing out in the gay media market, will now drop back from a weekly to a
biweekly schedule on May 17, according to Chris Crain, Window Media’s editorial
director.


To add to
the Blade’s troubles, Paul Schindler, editor-in-chief of the biweekly
LGNY, is retooling his paper this month. Community Media, LLC, which
owns the community papers The Villager and Downtown Express, is
acquiring LGNY, which will become Gay City News as of May 10.
"We’ve always seen a need to better capitalize the newspaper,"
Schindler says. The acquisition allows Schindler to buy 100 new street boxes
for his renamed paper, which he hopes to take weekly as early as June.


When Window
Media bought the New York Blade last year, it invested in a newspaper
that had never turned a profit. Don Michaels, the former publisher in New York,
recently told DC’s Metro Weekly that it was never successful financially.


Blade
readers have always noticed a prevalence of reprinted DC-based stories in the
New York edition, and a tendency to focus on celebrity culture to the exclusion
of New York City politics. Crain claims that in the biweekly Blade editor
Inga Sorensen will now "have greater editorial resources at her disposal
than any editor in a competing gay publication," but recent developments
at the two papers suggest otherwise. Four journalists have left the Washington
Blade
in frustration since the sale to Window Media. Meanwhile, "the
arts editor position up here in New York has been eliminated," says an
insider at the paper. And rumors abound concerning the New York Blade’s
financial ill health. Crain dismisses them, insisting that recent cutbacks have
been "small, but nothing drastic."


Even so,
gay publications are functioning in a peculiar marketplace. All types of papers
and magazines have watched their ad revenues plummet over the last year, and
the New York Blade, which claims an audited circulation of about
40,000, was struggling well before Sept. 11. Gay issues appear with increasing
frequency in mainstream publications, making it all the more imperative that
a gay publication distinguish itself in its coverage. But the New York Blade
simply became a smaller, dull facsimile of Window Media’s other papers.


"If
you’re producing a gay-specific product, you have to give readers a reason
to pick your paper up," Schindler says. "New Yorkers are especially
fussy." It remains to be seen if his rejiggered paper can do that.


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