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The New York Blade gets chopped

Queer newspaper suspends publication

In the wake of a troubling economy and a changing media landscape, a major New York City gay and lesbian newspaper has ceased operations.

The New York Blade, one of New York’s largest free gay and lesbian newspapers, has laid off its editor-in-chief and suspended publication, announced Matthew Bank, chief executive of The Blade’s parent company, HX Media, on July 1.

The move to call it quits was decided on June 30 after HX Media, which formed in 2005 by the merger of The Blade and HX Magazine, New York’s gay nightlife and gossip rag, sold The Blade to undisclosed buyers.

“Everyone was let go but the people on The Blade know that they may come back if The Blade is coming back,” Bank told The New York Times.

Bank said the decision to sell The Blade had nothing to do with a minority owner’s stake in HX Media. Instead, he addressed the poor economy and weak advertising climate: “The economy and the future of print media being more difficult was definitely weighing on us,” he told The Times.

The Blade, which boasted a circulation of 22,000 copies, felt the economic pinch this past New York City gay pride week. The newspaper’s annual gay pride issue — ordinarily a jackpot for ads sales — was only 28 pages.

“Gay pride is to gay publications what Christmas is to retail,” Paul Schindler, editor-in-chief of Gay City News, The Blade’s rival gay newspaper, told The Times. While Schindler credited The Blade for making “good contributions over the years,” he expressed doubt in the defunct newspaper’s future.

“When I pick up the Blade and it’s in 28 pages, then this is a business that is in serious problems,” Schindler told The Times.

The Blade isn’t the first major gay publication in the US to get chopped. Last May, New Jersey-based publishing company Mavety Media Group scrapped its library of gay skin magazines, including Mandate, Torso, Inches (and all its ethnic affiliates) and Playguy.

The call to scrap The Blade — a community periodical compared to Mavety’s porn products — comes at a particularly important time for gay journalism in New York City. Recently, the city celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and hosted its annual gay pride parade. Also, on the political front, gay issues in New York are hot topics, such as the proposed same-sex marriage bill in the State Senate and the lingering discontent over President Obama’s stance on gay rights.

“It is an incredibly exciting time for gay journalism,” Kat Long, editor in chief of The Blade since February, told The Times. “It’s important that gay papers are around to document it.”