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AFP Apparently Ceases Publication

By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (January 30, 2010)

(APN) ATLANTA -- Atlanta Free Press, a start-up publication covering news of concern to the GLBT community in Atlanta, has apparently ceased publication after a few weeks.

Per APN's count, AFP printed five issues, with a wide distribution of its first issue, and then a tapering distribution of print issues since then. Fewer and fewer locations had copies of AFP as time went on, and for the last two weeks, no copies of AFP have been found in Midtown.

APN looked for copies of what would have been AFP's sixth, seventh, and eighth issues in several prominent GLBT or GLBT-frequented bars, restaurants, coffeeshops, gyms, and salons [not to be cliche but that's where GLBT magazines are typically found]. A cashier at Outwrite Bookstore said they hadn't received anything since AFP's first issue.

AFP had also been using several metal newspaper boxes that had previously been owned by Window Media, owner of Southern Voice.

Those newspaper boxes are currently owned by the bankruptcy court, as Window Media filed bankruptcy and Southern Voice also ceased publication late last year.

With AFP's coverage of GLBT news having been scarce, Atlanta's GLBT community has primarily relied on Project Q Atlanta, an online source, for the latest news. While Project Q's articles seem to be more of a blend of formal news and blogging, they have helped keep everyone up to date by staying current.

The content of what would have been AFP's sixth issue did appear online, including an article by Interim Editor, Xanna Don't, regarding the Atlanta Eagle and City Council; however, no print edition was to be found.

One source familiar with the matter told Atlanta Progressive News that Don't was no longer working with AFP due to creative differences, and that AFP had been without an editor or anyone to produce news content.

Previously, AFP's original Editor, Zack Hudson, resigned after APN reported that he had been fired from Southern Voice for fabricated sources and that he then lied to APN about a court case that didn't exist.

The source who recently spoke with APN added that AFP was not making money and had been a financial drain on Nightlife Media Group, the company co-owned by Chip O'Kelley and Matt Neumann. NMG also owns Gaydar, a glossy GLBT club and nightlife publication.

A second individual said she had approached AFP regarding purchasing advertising in the last few days, only to get some bewildering answers.

She said she first contacted the number of AFP listed in a previous print issue and that it was a wrong number. She then said she got a number from information, where she left a voicemail that was not returned.

She then said that she spoke with O'Kelley who assured her that AFP had been printing every week, despite the fact that AFP's papers had been missing in action.

When the potential advertiser noted to O'Kelley that she had not been able to find a print edition anywhere, she said O'Kelley told her the new edition would be coming out later that day.

The potential advertiser also said O'Kelley claimed a circulation of 20,000, which is highly unlikely. Southern Voice, which was highly visible, had a circulation of 16,000 before its closure.

O'Kelley also said he would have his advertising staff get back to her.

When AFP's advertising salesperson called her back, she said that he offered her an advertising rate.

She said she then asked why she couldn't find the paper anywhere and the salesperson replied, "Our boxes have been stolen."

To be sure, the boxes are not owned by AFP, but by the bankruptcy court for Window Media, so that is misleading at best. In addition, many print locations such as bars have shelves where such publications can be placed without requiring metal boxes.

The advertiser said she was advised that she could definitely find a copy at the Midtown MARTA Station on 10th Street; however, she went to look later and no copies were to be found.

Meanwhile, a few other new GLBT publications may be in the offing. GA Voice, the new publication being planned by the former staffers of Southern Voice, is now planning a March 2010 launch date.

GA Voice has already started interviewing for advertising sales representatives.

Georgia Pulse is another publication which may be launching in the near future. In addition, Just In Magazine is supposed to be a new publication oriented towards GLBT youth.

Just In Magazine noted on its Facebook page recently that it would be partnering with Nightlife Media Group, although the nature of the partnership is not immediately clear.

Just In's Facebook profile lists NMG as its affiliation.

"We are growing! We are doing so at such a rate, itÂ’s quite inspiring... The growing interest that surrounds this great project has allowed us to merge with Nightlife Media Group and form a very strong partnership to help bring Atlanta, the very best in GLBT publication coverage possible," Just In wrote on January 04, 2010. "So STAY TUNED and look for us on the stands in March 2010."

The same note was posted on the Facebook page for Gaydar, NMG's publication which is still in print.

As for the newspaper boxes, GA Voice has made a bid to the bankruptcy court for them, in addition to the print archives of Southern Voice, which were sequestered after the bankruptcy.

Recently, creditors in the Window Media bankruptcy [including the present writer who is owed thirty-five dollars] received a Notice of Proposed Abandonment stating that the trustee was planning to dispose of WM property including office furniture and paper records if no objection is filed by creditors.

According to Melinda in the trustee's office, the paper records referred to do not include the Southern Voice archives.

According to Stuart Clayton, an attorney who is handling the bankruptcy, they have received GA Voice's bid. If no higher bid is made, then it is likely GA Voice will receive the Southern Voice archives.

Laura Douglas-Brown of GA Voice told APN that she plans to donate the archives to a local library, either affiliated with a university or the public library system.

While the newspaper boxes are included in the bid, they do appear to have been stolen all across Midtown. Clayton said Douglas-Brown can demand them back if she finds them later, but Douglas-Brown said she was told that she cannot round up the boxes in the meantime to prevent their theft.

Clayton also said that he does not expect any of Window Media's creditors who do not have a lien on WM's property to receive any of the money they are owed. That includes the present writer [who had been an occasional columnist for Southern Voice] as well as the staff of Southern Voice and David Magazine.

All in all, APN has been following the changing media landscape in Atlanta for over the last four years. Old publications have ceased to exist; some have faced challenges; meanwhile, new publications have emerged. However, not all new publications last.

Another start-up that folded last year was the Georgia Online News Service (GONSO), a news service that was owned by Rick White, who also owns the controversial Alisias public relations firm. GONSO was also staffed by some of the same staffers as Alisias; they even shared the same address, phone number, and website.

As with AFP and Zack Hudson, GONSO's conflict of interest with Alisias was something commonly known by media insiders, but was the elephant in the room no one besides APN would report on.

GONSO folded after a few months when they went from a free to a paid syndication service, and newspapers across the state were not willing to pay for what were mostly op-eds.

(END/2010)

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

Revised syndication policy:

Our syndicaton policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html