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UPDATE: Southern Voice, David shut down

Richard Eldredge tweets that staffers at Atlanta’s leading gay publications come to work to find locks changed

Richard Eldredge tweets that the Southern Voice and David, Atlanta’s leading gay publications, have been shut down. Eldredge says staffers came to work today to find the locks changed.

In February, the NYC-based Gay City News reported that the Avalon Equity Fund, a parent company majority shareholder in SoVo, Washington Blade and several other gay publications’ parent company Unite Media, had been forced into liquidation and faced federal receivership. People familiar with the matter recently told CL they were unaware of the company’s fate. (Project Q Atlanta’s been following the story closely.)

UPDATE: “We had been told that essentially we’d be sold down the road,” SoVo Editor Laura Douglas-Brown tells CL. “We had no inclination it’d be this morning. Everyone’s in shock right now.”

SoVo News Editor Dyana Bagby tells CL that a news budget had been prepared for this week’s issue. She covered two events this weekend and was going to write up articles for the publication.

“The thing to keep in mind is that this is not just Southern Voice,” Douglas-Brown says. “This is also the Washington Blade, which has been the gay paper of record for our country for the last 40 years. And David Magazine and the paper in Fort Lauderdale. It’s not just a loss for the employees, but the gay community as well.”

Since its founding nearly 21 years ago, SoVo has been the strongest voice covering Atlanta’s gay community. Bagby, a dogged reporter who offered clear and concise reporting of the recent Atlanta Eagle raid and other LGBT issues, helped bolster SoVo’s online presence. Staff Writer Matt Schafer could commonly be found in the Gold Dome press box covering policy decisions in a state that, by and large, hasn’t exactly been friendly to gay rights. Douglas-Brown says the paper employed approximately 20 people.

“No one was in it just for the job,” Douglas-Brown says. “Everybody was in it for the cause too, in their own ways. People have put up with a lot difficulties over the past year, and have hung in there because they cared. It’s tragic and I’m desperately sorry it ended this way, especially for the people who’ve worked so hard.

She continues: “The closure didn’t happen because of a lack of need for our publications. It didn’t happen because of a lack of hard dedicated work by local staff. And that’s the shame of it...It’s a sad tale, how it all came crashing down.”

UPDATE: Project Q Atlanta posts a photo of the one-page announcement that greeted the publications’ staffers.

The text reads:

It is with GREAT regret that we must inform you that effective immediately, the operations of Window Media, LLC and Unite Media, LLC have closed down.

Please return to this office on WEDNESDAY, November 18th, 2009 at 11:00 AM to collect personal belongings and to receive information on your separation stipulations. Please bring boxes and/or containers that will allow you to collect all your personal belongings at one time.

Regretfully,

Steve Myers

Mike Kitchens

Myers is the publisher. Kitchens, Project Q reports, is a longtime Window Media executive. We’re trying to touch base with Unite Media and Window Media. More to come.

UPDATE: Erik Wemple of the Washington City Paper, CL’s sister publication, reports that  Washington Blade staffers will launch a new publication, minus the debt load of its former parent company.