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Mark’s List to launch magazine, newspaper after South Florida Blade publisher shuts down

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

A popular South Florida gay website announced Monday it will launch a companion weekly magazine and biweekly newspaper following the sudden closure Sunday of the nation's largest gay newspaper group.

border8Multimedia Platforms of Oakland Park, which co-owns South Florida-based Mark's List, a gay website with about 5,000 unique visitors daily, next week will launch Mark's List Magazine, a Florida bar and entertainment guide. A newspaper, still unnamed, will begin Nov. 26, said Bobby Blair, managing partner and founder of Multimedia Platforms.

"Our focus for the future, and the importance of this transaction, is owning the No. 1 LGBT website," Blair said. "It will certainly sustain our print operation and also will grow."

Washington, D.C.-based Window Media and sister company Unite Media on Sunday announced plans to file for bankruptcy, immediately shutting down its papers and magazines in Wilton Manors, Houston, Atlanta and Washington. Last year, the U.S. Small Business Administration took control of Window Media/Unite Media's majority stockholder, financially troubled New York-based Avalon Equity Partners.

Blair's group had been negotiating since September with Avalon Equity to purchase the company's South Florida properties, The South Florida Blade newspaper and 411 magazine, a bar guide. The Blade printed 8,500 copies a week; 411 printed 12,500, according to Blair.

Multimedia Platforms put $250,000 in escrow with Wilton Manors attorney Dean Trantalis. Blair and his partners had planned to buy The Blade and 411 for $175,000 and invest the rest in the business, he said.

Window Media/Unite Media decided to filed for bankruptcy after its owners decided to stop putting money in the company, Blair said.

That's when Multimedia Platforms decided "we don't need them anymore," said Mark Haines, founder of Mark's List, who recently sold half his company to Blair's group.

Multimedia Platforms quickly decided to take the money held in escrow and use it to start a new newspaper and magazine, Haines said.

First order of business: hire all the displaced workers at The Blade and 411.

"We have everything we need," Haines said. "We have all the contacts, telephone numbers, everything we need to go forward."

When the newspaper launches, it will emphasize feature stories rather than hard news.

"We're going to make sure it becomes more topical, more lifestyle oriented and more specific to South Florida. A real estate section, movie reviews, restaurant reviews," Blair said.

The Blade, a money loser, is history. A final issue of profitable 411 -- already completed before Window Media/Unite Media locked out its workers -- will hit the newsstands Thursday, he said.

South Florida's gay media market has been in flux for a decade. South Florida's oldest gay newspaper, TWN (The Weekly News), ran out of money and shut down after 29 years in March 2006.

In 2003, Broward attorney Norm Kent sold his 3-year-old, Broward-based Express Gay News to Window Media/Unite Media, which renamed it The South Florida Blade.

Blair believes that despite universal troubles in the media world, his group can make a success of the expanded Mark's List brand.

"You have a tremendous amount of LGBT-friendly businesses who would love to reach out to the powerful LGBT buying power," Blair said. "That will bode well for growth. They will want to place ads in our publication."

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Let's see, TWN couldn't make print work, Express couldn't, The Blade couldn't- Print is dead

i followed blade for the last couple of months and the other south florida gay publications but found they were not up to date and focused too much on the fluff of the lifestyle rather than the news we need to hear about in south florida. i hope this new publication does a better job at addressing the concern of the south florida glbt community. For news and events I still find Steve's blog to be the most comprehensive

Print is not dead. It merely needs to adjust itself to new realities---the 24 hour news cycle, cable TV, opinion shows and shlock masquerading as journalism and the internet, which does an excellent job when there's oversight and real journalists producing it. (See Steve Rothaus. Purists like myself still love the feel of a newspaper in hand and remain hungry for hard-hitting news, crisply written features and thought-provoking editorials. That never changes. If anything's dead, or on life-support, it's gay publications that insist on doing the same tired old rah rah advocacy journalism rather than being open to the free market of ideas, even those they may oppose or feel uncomfortable with.

It appears that Steve Rothaus's Gay South FL last day was November 18, 2009.

Nothing has changed since that date.

Bill, I'm not sure what you mean. There have been many blog updates since then: www.MiamiHerald.com/gay

Steve

lovve you work

Brecht, thank you very much!

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