Steve Schewel, president of Carolina Independent Publications (CIP),
announced today that the company is selling the Independent Weekly and its
associated website, indyweek.com, to Richard Meeker and Mark Zusman.
Meeker and Zusman are the owners of City of Roses Newspaper Company
which publishes Willamette Week, the alternative newsweekly in Portland, Oregon.
They also own the Santa Fe Reporter, an alternative newsweekly in New Mexico.
The Independent published its first issue on April 15, 1983, and recently
marked its 29th year of publication.
While Richard Meeker and Mark Zusman live in Portland, Meeker has an
important and long-standing Triangle connection. He is the brother of former
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. Richard Meeker’s father also lives in North
Carolina, so he has traveled to the state frequently over many years.
“I am thrilled that the new owners of the Independent will be Richard and
Mark,” Schewel said. “This is the best possible landing place for the Indy. They do
some of the best alternative journalism in the country. In 2005, one of their
reporters at Willamette Week won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, a
unique achievement among weekly newspapers. They know how to run a
profitable newsweekly, but at the same time they share our ideals for quality
journalism and community service. I can’t think of anyone better to both maintain
the Independent‘s legacy and operate a small alt-media company well and
Schewel first met and became friends with Meeker and Zusman at
conventions of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies over many years.
Schewel and Meeker have kept in close touch over the years during Meeker’s
visits to the Triangle, and they began discussing the deal several months ago over
coffee at the Raleigh Times restaurant.
Schewel noted that his company, CIP, will retain ownership of one of the
company’s assets, the Hopscotch Music Festival, which will take place Sept. 6-8 in
Raleigh. Hopscotch is not included in the sale to Meeker and Zusman.
“I love Hopscotch,” said Schewel. “It is a huge success and has already
become a signature event in Raleigh, and it has given the Independent itself an
enormous boost. We will continue the close, symbiotic partnership between
Hopscotch and the Independent going forward, even though we will now be under
Schewel explained why he is selling the paper now, after 29 years of
publication. “The paper has survived the recession and returned to prosperity and
added two new successful niche publications. Our political endorsements are more
coveted than ever. The staff is strong. And I’m 61 years old, enjoying my city
council work, and ready for some new challenges. It’s a great time for someone
new to come in with their ideas and energy.”
He continued, “Starting the Independent from scratch with a handful of
colleagues three decades ago was incredibly hard, and since then it has been a
difficult but glorious journey. I am so grateful for the staff here at the Independent
over the years and our commitment to building a vibrant, open culture and a just
community here in our beloved North Carolina home. There is nobility in this
work, and I am so lucky to have been able to do it.”
The closing date for the sale of the Independent is Oct. 1.