Gaydar’s Southern Voice makes its debut

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imageWith a 32-page glossy edition, Southern Voice hit the streets on Friday with its debut issue under new owners, five months to the day after the paper shut its doors amidst the collapse of its then parent company.

The latest entrant into the topsy-turvy LGBT media scene in Atlanta competes head-on with the GA Voice, which debuted on March 19 with a 32-page edition. GA Voice is currently printed bi-weekly.

SoVo’s new owners pledge the publication will resume weekly printing to match the schedule of SoVo before it shut down, along with David magazine and several other publications, when its owner Window Media collapsed under mounting debt and sluggish ad sales on Nov. 16. A few days later, Window Media filed bankruptcy and started a process that eventually led to the assets of SoVo and David magazine being purchased by a reorganized Gaydar Magazine LLC.

Gaydar dropped its namesake publication, a weekly nightlife magazine, and relaunched it as David on March 11, just 10 days after picking up the assets of the shuttered publication in bankruptcy court. It’s grown from a 64-page debut to 80 pages.

Back to SoVo: The print debut on Friday came two days after Gaydar launched a new website for the publication and after a handful of delays. The company initially said the paper would launch in late March, then moved the debut to April 7. When that date came, Gaydar announced an April 14 start.

Last Thursday, when the print edition couldn’t be found in Midtown, the company said their plans always called for an April 14 start for the website and an April 16 launch of the print version. The company’s own marketing materials and an April 8 press release made no distinction in the launch of the website and the print edition when it announced an April 14 start. The Associated Press reported April 9 that Matt Neumann, Gaydar’s co-owner, said “he’s going to start publishing the newspaper again Wednesday.”

But now it’s out: The debut issue of Gaydar’s SoVo is a full-color version printed on slick stock often found in magazines. It gives the paper a strong look, but the company says on its website that “the glossy edition is a one-time treat so the regular paper stock will be back next week.”

The newspaper attempts to keep some of the same flavor from its Window Media era, including a two-page pullout of upcoming events, a similar table of contents page, and section titles that mirror past renditions (Community, Forum, On the Record, Scene). But it also offers longer headlines with some in all caps, inconsistent font sizes and random placements of the SoVo logo that appear to just fill space.

SoVo includes a handful of local stories mixed in with national ones, recycled content found on the web and syndicated features. The cover story is a look at the gay offerings of the ongoing Atlanta Film Festival pulled directly from marketing materials produced by event organizers. Other local stories include a piece on Joan Garner’s campaign for the Fulton County Commission, an interview with Mayor Kasim Reed and a preview of the upcoming 2010 HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Silent Auction. The latter story is a word-for-word reprint of a press release issued by organizers.

The issue also includes an interview with comedian Stephen Guarino, who has ties to Atlanta, by writer Jesse Hancock, who is listed as SoVo’s associate editor.

Several pieces in the paper are from Q Syndicate, a service that provides puzzles, horoscopes, book reviews, an entertainment column and other content to LGBT media outlets around the U.S. Q Syndicate also provided two entertainment pieces by Chris Azzopardi, Q Syndicate’s associate editor and also the entertainment editor of gay publication Between the Lines in Michigan: An interview with lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge is in the print edition, while a piece on singer KeSha appears on the website. (UPDATE: Original post was updated to clarify that the two entertainment stories were provided by Q Syndicate.)

Some readers emailed us to say that a quick search of the web shows that other content from the paper and the SoVo website, including a piece on spring cleaning, is recycled from other websites.

The SoVo website did break a bit of original news over the weekend, reporting that B.J. Roosters, a popular gay bar on Cheshire Bridge Road offering go-go boys, temporarily closed on Saturday.

SoVo is Gaydar’s second attempt at producing an LGBT paper. The company published the Atlanta Free Press for a handful of issues late last year before halting production over concerns about staffing, quality and content.

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