The Dec. 30 issue of TXT Newsmagazine, Texas’ only statewide gay weekly, was the last, officials announced.
Owner and publisher Robert Moore said the magazine, which depended solely on advertisements for its income, was unable to generate enough money to cover the costs of operating offices in Austin, Dallas and Houston. The magazine also served San Antonio from its Houston office, and Fort Worth from the Dallas office.
“It was terribly disappointing,” Moore said.
Four full-time staff members were laid off, Moore said. Three other full-time staff members were absorbed by Dallas Voice.
The publisher, who has also owned Dallas Voice since the weekly newspaper’s inception in 1984, said he was saddened at the layoffs, the first he has made at either business.
“Everyone worked very hard to make TXT a success,” he said. “It just didn’t happen.”
Employees were told about the shutdown on Dec. 27, Moore said. Those laid off will be given severance pay, and their group health insurance will be funded through Jan. 31, he said.
“It was very hard letting them go,” Moore said.
TXT was formed last January by combining a Qtexas, a previous GLBT entertainment magazine Moore owned, with The Texas Triangle, which Moore purchased in December 2004. Angle Media, based in Dallas, sold the Triangle to Moore along with the Dallas-Fort Worth Lambda Pages.
The DFW Lambda Pages is unaffected by the shutdown of TXT Newsmagazine and is thriving, Moore said.
The newsmagazine grew over its first few months. But by summer it had begun faltering, experiencing lower-than-expected sales and a plateau it never recovered from.
The publication was not able to make a significant dent in getting advertisements from
professional and service firms, Leo Cusimano, advertising director, said.
“We had trouble securing those type of accounts,” Cusimano said.
He added that the GLBT business environments in Houston and Austin differ greatly from Dallas, where Dallas Voice has thrived for more than two decades.
“We failed to get a stronghold” in Houston and Austin, Cusimano said.
A major reason, Moore said. was that Houston and Austin both have multiple gay publications focused on the local community.
“When all those publications take their little piece of the pie, there’s not much left,” Moore said.
The newsmagazine poured most of its news-gathering effort into Houston, said Dennis Vercher, TXT’s executive editor. About two-thirds of the publication’s news content each week, he said, focused on the gay and lesbian community in Houston.
Vercher said he suspects many Texans will miss their weekly dose of TXT, especially in areas that have no other credible news-oriented GLBT publication.
“I think we brought news coverage in the rest of the state to a new level in terms of its integrity, balance and professionalism,” Vercher, who is also senior editor of Dallas Voice, said.
“I think it will be missed.”
Moore said he plans now to refocus on North Texas.
“We’re going to concentrate our efforts here in North Texas, where our strength is. It is going to be good for us and good for the community,” he said.
A first result of the refocused effort is a revamped website for Dallas Voice. The new site, at www.DallasVoice.com, debuted last Friday. It carries a ballot readers can fill out for the newspaper’s first-ever Readers Voice Awards, which will be given in March.
Moore said he has received several e-mail messages from advertisers in Houston, Austin and San Antonio who regretted TXT Newsmagazine’s demise.
“I hear all the time people saying they wished they had a newspaper like Dallas Voice in their city,” Moore said. “They had hoped we would be able to do that, but unfortunately, the market dynamics didn’t permit it.”