News-Press Owner Extends Condolences On Demise of Washington Blade

Wishes Its Staff the Best in Launch of a New Publication

The following is a statement by Nicholas F. Benton, owner-editor of the Falls Church News-Press issued upon the news today of the sudden termination of publication of fellow Washington, D.C. Beltway weekly, the Washington Blade.

“I was shocked and saddened by the news today that over the weekend, a number of LGBT community-based publications owned by Window Media around the U.S. had been suddenly closed down over, including the nation’s oldest LGBT newspaper, the Washington Blade. My condolences to the employees of the Blade and to the community the Blade has served so well for so many years. 

“At the same time, I am heartened by the reported resolve expressed by leading staff members of the former Washington Blade that they plan to regroup and launch a new publication, under a different name, to serve the area’s and the nation’s LGBT community. I wish them the very best in their efforts.

“As a lifelong newspaper person, it is for me always bad news to learn of the demise of a print newspaper, even in cases when, over the past 19 years of running the Falls Church News-Press, they have competed against me. But these are awful times for the industry, as is well known.

“The problems for print newspapers go beyond the bad economy and rise of the Internet. As investors turned to newspapers expecting unreasonably high rates of return, they undertook a pattern of extracting high profits by dumbing down the content of newspapers, downsizing newsrooms and rendering them irrelevant and unable to compete with other news outlets. This has been epidemic in proportion, and the Washington Blade is among the victims.

“Such a profit-driven investor group sought to buy my newspaper, which I founded and have operated myself, with assistance from a small but very talented and dedicated staff, a few years back. I declined the lucrative offer. The investor group did buy a number of other Northern Virginia community newspapers, but then left them in a position like the Blade’s when it, too, went bankrupt earlier this year. So I am keenly aware of this process.

“The Blade’s corporate owners also wound up in extreme arrears to their creditors, and were put into receivership to the Small Business Administration. I was invited to help salvage the Blade from a liquidation. To my knowledge, there were alternatives to what happened today, but do not yet know what precipitated the decision to suddenly terminate.

“As one whose newspaper is officially certified as a gay-owned ‘LGBT Business Enterprise’ by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, I am saddened for the impact of this on the LGBT world, but hopeful for the new effort that will rise from its ashes.”