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Gay publications close after bankruptcy

  • Workers at Southern Voice in Atlanta met by sign saying they are jobless
  • Washington Blade, South Florida Blade among other publications closed
  • Parent companies Window Media and United Media have filed for bankruptcy
  • GLBT Issues
  • Newspapers

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- When Laura Douglas-Brown got to work on Monday, she saw a note on the door.

"It is with great regret that we must inform you that effective immediately, the operations of Window Media LLC and United Media LLC have closed down." It asked employees to return Wednesday, adding, "Please bring boxes and/or containers that will allow you to collect all your personal belongings at one time."

And with that, Douglas-Brown lost her job at Atlanta, Georgia-based Southern Voice -- the South's main newspaper for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities -- where she has worked for more than 12 years.

Southern Voice, which was in print for more than 20 years and had a 100,000 circulation, was one of several gay newspapers and magazines, including the Washington Blade and South Florida Blade, that were shut down Monday when their parent companies, Window Media and United Media, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

"Certainly we knew finances were tight, but none of us were expecting this today," said Douglas-Brown, who spent her day greeting staffers at the office so they wouldn't find the note alone.

Calls to corporate offices of the parent companies were not immediately returned Monday.

Douglas-Brown said that an investment group, Avalon Equity Fund, owned the majority of Window Media, the country's largest gay and lesbian newspaper publisher. She said employees had heard that Avalon was in receivership with the federal Small Business Administration, which allows the agency to sell the company's assets to satisfy its loans.

However, "We had been told the impact on us would be minimal and that the company would be sold," she said.

Calls to Avalon's offices in New York went unanswered Monday.

Kevin Nass, the editor of the Washington Blade, the nation's the oldest gay newspaper and second-largest by circulation, said when he arrived to work at 8 a.m. Monday, he was met by two corporate officers, notifying him that his paper would be shut down immediately.

"The bottom line was they filed for Chapter 7, which means liquidation," Nass said. "I think a lot of us expected a Chapter 11 reorganization ... but they didn't go that route and I guess the creditors wanted out."

He said the Blade's staff of more than 20 employees would meet Tuesday to discuss their options.

"There's never been more news, more need of this niche," he said, noting that topics like same-sex marriage and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy put gay publications in demand. The Blade, established in 1969, had a 33,000 circulation.

"The audience is there, the need has never been greater," he added, saying his team planned to launch a new, independent publication.

Douglas-Brown agreed, saying, "It's a tremendous loss. ... None of these publications have been shut down for a lack of stories."

CNN's Samira Simone contributed to this report.