SoVo entertains idea of selling to GA Voice

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imageAtlanta’s two LGBT newspapers, which have competed with one another since their launches a few months ago, are now discussing the possibility of the GA Voice buying the Southern Voice name from its publisher.

The discussions – described by both media outlets as informal – opened in June when Gaydar Magazine Inc. missed several weeks of publishing its flagship SoVo. The possibility of the GA Voice purchasing the name is a repeat of brief discussions the two companies entertained in late February as Gaydar purchased the SoVo and David assets for $9,000 in bankruptcy court.

The recent round of discussions hasn’t yet included negotiations about a price for the SoVo nameplate, according to SoVo Publisher Matt Neumann (top photo) and GA Voice Editor and Co-owner Laura Douglas Brown (bottom photo).

image“We reached out to them during the period in which Southern Voice had not published for a month to see if they would be interested in selling the name and the newspaper boxes,” Douglas-Brown says. “It was a very informal conversation. Since then, there has been a little bit of back and forth but the ball is in their court to name a price and negotiate from there if it was something we were interested in.”

Douglas-Brown says the GA Voice would retire the SoVo name and use the newspaper boxes for their paper as its distribution grows, a plan similar to one they proposed as they bid for the SoVo and David assets in bankruptcy court. The majority of GA Voice employees, including Douglas-Brown, worked at the long-running version of Southern Voice owned by Window Media when that company went bankrupt on Nov. 16.

Neumann says the discussion with the GA Voice is one of three potential offers he’s received for the SoVo name since Gaydar started publishing the paper in April. If SoVo was sold, Neumann says he’d like it to go to local buyers who will continue publishing.

“I would not want to see it retired,” Neumann says. “I would want someone to take over the name and brand. That hasn’t entered into the conversation and I would be not inclined in that direction. I think it would be a bad business move as well. The name has a lot of name recognition there. It would probably not be a wise business decision to take the name and stop using it.”

Neumann’s entertaining potential offers for SoVo as a way to heal what he says is a divide among some LGBT people. But despite the paper’s recent struggles with printing a weekly edition, Neumann says SoVo is steadily improving both in terms of quality and its financial picture.

“I’m looking at community interest overall. I don’t want to see one of the papers compete against one another and put one of them out of business,” Neumann says. “It is not a fire sale. I am entertaining thoughts and offers. There is not an offer on the table.”

Neumann and his company fired a shot at the GA Voice on March 19, the same day the new paper debuted its print edition. Gaydar threatened legal action over accusations that the GA Voice represented itself as SoVo in public and as it sold advertising, used a URL that included the SoVo name, and repurposed SoVo distribution boxes as its own. The GA Voice said it had no reason to pretend to be SoVo.

The possibility of the GA Voice buying the SoVo name also comes as SBI Magazine announced last week that it’s dropping its print edition after only 10 issues of the gay glossy. The publication debuted on April 28 as the latest addition to a growing field of LGBT print publications in metro Atlanta.

SoVo is also struggling to refashion its online presence. Its website was stripped of its content recently to make way for a redesign that Neumann says should be completed this weekend. The site sat untouched without new content for weeks prior to its recent shuttering.

Gaydar has also struggled with a lawsuit from a former printer over nearly $40,000 in unpaid printing bills. On June 8, a Bibb County judge granted the former printer the first legal step in acquiring Gaydar assets to satisfy the outstanding debt, according to Don’t Label It. The story, published Wednesday, was written by blogger and former Gaydar employee Xanna Don’t.

Gaydar has also faced SoVo’s news editor quitting just 10 days after its debut issue under Gaydar. SoVo is the second paper launched by Gaydar. The first, Atlanta Free Press, published a handful of issues before it shut down in January over staffing and quality concerns.

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