What happens to the archives of minority newspapers that go out of existence?
Over the years publications that target gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender audiences have come and gone -- witness today's tumult at Window Media LLC. A key newsweekly, The Washington Blade, may be no more after celebrating its 40th anniversary last month.
There's one very important angle that gets overlooked when minority media outlets go out of existence: archives. In today’s digital world, what happens to the online archives? Earlier this year the New York Blade shut down and all its online searchable back issues vanished. The same thing happened when Lesbian Gay New York (LGNY) declared bankruptcy -- years of issues that had been available and searchable online were gone. A new publication took up where LGNY left off -- Gay City News -- but what about all that community history, the public record of political and cultural matters? In the wake of the Washington Blade’s demise there are reports that another publication may arise, perhaps staffed with former Blade employees. I sure hope so – gay community publications have a vital role to play even in an era when major media outlets have pumped up their coverage of sexual minority issues. I also hope Window Media LLC's owners/shareholders will keep the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, South Florida Blade, etc. archives – online and otherwise -- available. Publisher, editors, writers -- and GLBT communities -- have a responsibility to ensure that such archives remain intact and widely accessible.
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