December 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm EST | by Kevin Naff
What’s in a name?

(Photo by Joe Tresh)

A rose by any other name is still a rose. It was an easy and logical jump for 24 unemployed folks in D.C. who agree with the premise to believe that a newspaper by any other name is still a newspaper.

In response to numerous questions from readers near and far (including one regular Blade reader in Turkey who wrote us with questions), we wanted to address what happened two weeks ago and how we arrived at the name DC Agenda for this new venture. Rest assured that we are anxious to stop making headlines and ready to return to covering the news. We promise this will be our last self-referential column on this subject.

In August 2008, our parent company, Window Media, was forced into receivership by the Small Business Administration. The company’s assets were suddenly for sale, including the Washington Blade. Blade employees submitted a bid to purchase the paper’s remaining assets (namely the brand name and print and online archives) and to begin operating as a local, employee-owned newspaper again.

We were led to believe that a decision on selling the Blade would come in September. Our offer was competitive. But the decision was repeatedly pushed back. Our frustrations mounted.

Window Media unexpectedly pulled the rug out two weeks ago, closing the Blade and other papers, including the top-notch Southern Voice. Many questions remain, chief among them: Why was the Blade, which operated in the black, allowed to be shut down when a viable cash offer was on the table? The DC Agenda’s reporting staff is now looking into this question. We deserve answers, as does the community that supported the Blade for so many years.

In the meantime, we are looking to the future and it is bright. We were Bladees, and proudly so. The Washington Blade as a name and brand was strong, functioning and well recognized. But the Blade was part of a media group, which was part of a venture capital group, both of which are, respectively, in bankruptcy and receivership. Those troubles, both legal and moral will become clear in the light of court. The name “Washington Blade” is not ours. It is not legally available.

In the meantime, we have a paper to deliver.

The DC Agenda, Washington’s LGBTQ news source, is the name of that publication. Know that we considered dozens of names. Clever double entendres like the “Homo Hatchet;” strong newspaper-worthy ideas like “Gay News Tribune” and in your face names like “QueerNation” were tossed about.

At a staff meeting on Nov. 17, the day after the Blade was shut down, we worked quickly to make key decisions regarding the new publication, including what to call it. In attendance were men and women and gender-neutral folks. The group was racially diverse and included a mixed age group. Represented were gays, straights, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, advertisers, freelancers, art department folks, sales and editorial staff, a lawyer, a marketing and PR professional, other newspaper people, real estate professionals and readers. About 30 people participated.

The techies did URL searches while the lawyer considered trademark implications. DC Agenda was available from both perspectives. We did not vote; the result was the confluence of legal opinion, web site address availability and the need for geo targeting. That information directed the body as a whole to accept this name. No one thought it was perfect, but it fit the bill. It was then Tuesday afternoon. We had to have the Agenda written, designed, sold, printed and distributed by Friday.

We liked “Agenda” for many reasons. It’s one of those loaded words long used against LGBT people. Think, “homosexual agenda” — an ominous term used for years by the religious right to scare people. Using “Agenda” in our business name allows us to take ownership of a word that’s been used as a pejorative. We will redefine it.

Our journalistic mission has not changed; this new name embraces an inclusive agenda, from the political to the social. We will continue to scrutinize the LGBT rights movement, its leaders, lobbyists and organizations as the Blade did.

This group was inspiring. This gang is hardboiled and professional. You are reading our third consecutive edition. We wanted to honor the Blade by not missing an issue. We wanted to serve our community.

Many thanks to everyone at that meeting. When brave, creative, involved, honest people contribute their time and talent, our mission continues. LGBTQ voices will have a home and a forum in the DC Agenda. Our stories will be chronicled.

The DC Agenda is the name of your new hometown LGBTQ publication. Your support has been overwhelming. We know you can recognize a rose. We hope you will help us produce a new bloom.

Lynne Brown and Kevin Naff are publisher and editor, respectively, of the DC Agenda. Reach them at and

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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