Creative Loafing Savannah Becomes Connect Savannah

Merges with community weekly

In an unusual merger between a community paper and an alternative newsweekly, two Savannah, Ga., weekly publications have become one.

Connect Savannah, a community newspaper that is a part of Morris Multi-Media Inc, and Creative Loafing, formerly of the Creative Loafing Inc. chain, folded into one weekly paper on October 1.

“Both papers were growing and both were doing OK,” says Kyle Sims, formerly co-owner of Creative Loafing. “But we looked at the market and we figured that we could expedite the growth process. That was the motivating factor.”

Connect will incorporate many of the former Creative Loafing’s columns as well as its standard alternative take on city politics, arts and entertainment, Sims says.

In addition, the new paper will use half of Creative Loafing’s freelancers and its one full-time editorial staffer. Connect will remain a free paper with a circulation of 40,000.

“We tried to take what Creative Loafing was doing and expand on it while also utilizing what Connect had to offer,” says Sims.

No staffers at Creative Loafing lost their jobs as a result of the merger, but three at Connect were laid off. Sims, who remains publisher of Connect Savannah, says all three were given “fairly large severance packages.”

For several months before the merger went into effect, Sims and his partner Debbie Eason had been talking to the owner of Connect Savannah, Charles Morris, owner of Morris Multi-Media Inc., which operates 94 different publications, four television stations, and a handful of radio stations.

Sims says that once he, Eason and Morris were at the table, they “realized that teaming up made a lot more sense than competing against each other.”

Eason was a co-founder of the Creative Loafing chain and was its CEO until last summer, when she sold the company to her children. She and Sims also recently teamed up again to buy Creative Loafing Greenville, S.C., along with its publisher Lori Coon.

Nearly three weeks into the merger, Sims reports that he had heard only a scattering of complaints.

“What we want to do is provide readers with the best possible alternative to the daily paper that we can.”

Matt Pulle is a staff writer for the Nashville Scene.