Why is there a GA Voice and a Southern Voice?

From the publisher: Let’s talk about the elephant

Publisher’s Letter
For those of you who know the history of Southern Voice, and my role in that history, I apologize for any redundancy here. I also ask everyone’s forgiveness for talking about the small and often boring world of local LGBT publishing.

There are many topics that could be covered in this space, anything from Prom King Derrick Martin to the president’s recent directive to hospitals to treat LGBT partners the same as heterosexual partners. But there is something in our own living room that obviously needs to be discussed.

You may have seen “Southern Voice” back on the street in the last couple of weeks. The first issue came out on April 16. There is a great deal of confusion about this with both readers and advertisers. Why is there a Georgia Voice and a Southern Voice? Which one should I read? Which one is better for me as an advertiser? What’s going on here?

Here’s the deal.

The original Southern Voice began publishing in March 1988, with me at the helm. One year later, in March 1989, I incorporated Ryan Publications, Inc., to own and publish Southern Voice.  I am the founder of the original newspaper and my title throughout the almost 10 years I owned SoVo varied from editor to publisher and back again.

In August 1997, Ryan Publications, Inc., sold Southern Voice to Window Media LLC. Window Media owned Southern Voice and several other publications until Window Media closed its doors on Nov. 16, 2009.

Before Ryan Publications sold Southern Voice in 1997, I hired Laura Douglas-Brown as a staff writer. She stayed with SoVo through the years and in 2006 she was named editor of the newspaper. Flash forward again to Nov. 16, 2009, when SoVo employees, including Douglas-Brown, found the locks changed at their office and a short note saying the newspaper has ceased publication.

Laura and I talked on the phone that afternoon. We expressed our grief and frustration, and we cried on each other’s shoulders. Then, we started the discussion that led to the newspaper (or web page) you are reading right now.

Let me be 100 percent clear. Georgia Voice is not Southern Voice, we are not the “new” Southern Voice, and we are not owned or managed by any of the people who managed Southern Voice between August 1997 and the day it closed forever on Nov. 16, 2009.

So, you might ask, if Southern Voice “closed down forever,” how is it back on the streets now? It is on the streets because Gaydar Magazine, Inc. bought the remaining Atlanta assets of Window Media, including the rights to the name Southern Voice (along, incidentally, with the rights to the name David). That corporation now publishes a newspaper that it has named Southern Voice. It can do that, because it owns the name. The owner of Gaydar Magazine, Inc., was never previously an owner, employee, manager, or publisher of Southern Voice.

Southern Voice did not “emerge from bankruptcy” as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV reported a few weeks ago. Instead, the name Southern Voice was bought, and it is being used again.

The short version of the truth is this: Georgia Voice has former Southern Voice staff (Laura Douglas-Brown, Dyana Bagby, Bo Shell, Ryan Watkins, and Tim Boyd) and management (Douglas-Brown and me) but it does not have the name. The current incarnation of Southern Voice has … the name.

Because six of the seven staff and managers of Georgia Voice have a history with the old Southern Voice, people assume Georgia Voice is a new version of SoVo. We held a community meeting in December 2009, after Window Media ceased publishing Southern Voice, in which the approximately 80 attendees voted to name our new LGBT media outlet the Georgia Voice.

We then formed a new corporation, The Georgia Voice, LLC, in January; launched our website at the beginning of March; and put out our first print edition March 19. We are a brand new company that intends to become the “LGBT media outlet of record in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia.” That is part of our mission statement.

It’s who we are.

So, which should you read? Which should you trust? Which should you spend your precious advertising dollars with? Well, obviously, I think the answer is Georgia Voice. But, also as obvious, you have to decide.

Read them both. Go to both websites. Determine what you like and what you don’t — what information you trust and what you don’t. If you have any question about anything, send me an e-mail or send Laura Douglas-Brown an e-mail.

And while you’re at it, please tell us what you like about Georgia Voice (or what you don’t). Suggest a story, a writer, a better whatever for our website, or anything else you want to see. Send us your birthday, anniversary, job promotion, etc. for Milestones. Comment on our website and Facebook page. Blog for us.

In short, get your voice out there. After all, that is the voice that matters.

Chris Cash is the publisher of Georgia Voice. She can be reached at ccash@thegavoice.com. Editor Laura Douglas-Brown can be reached at lbrown@thegavoice.com.