Syndicates Seek Alt-Weekly Copy

One dies, others born, expand

Syndicates and free archives for alternative newsweekly writing are springing up and fading away like crocuses this spring.

Ron Curran, a veteran of the alternative press, announced plans earlier this year to start his own news and feature service, Pulp Syndicate. And Featurewell, founded in 2000, which counts more than two dozen AAN members as clients, has signed a syndication deal with Mother Jones.

Now Coury Turczyn, former editor of Metro Pulse, plans to start another Web-based archive called PopCult.

“The concept is pretty simple: I’d like to create an archive of great pop culture writing from the alternative press,” Turczyn says. “What I’m looking for is true reporting and critical analysis on pop culture topics of lasting interest. … With the demise of and the fun-free skew of, I thought there might be some newsweekly writers out there who wouldn’t mind having their pieces archived in a pop culture-focused site.”

Turczyn says writers will have to either own their usage rights or be able to get them.

“I won’t be making any copyright claims on their pieces, and they can credit their original publications any way they see fit,” he says. “Also, as this site is a negative-profit project, I’m not currently paying for previously published material – though that may change if I can figure out a way of making a buck. The writers will also have full control over how their pieces are used and can pull them at any time.”

The work in progress can viewed by clicking here.

“Some writers may ask, ‘Gee, why should I donate my valuable stories to PopCult when I could be making tens of dollars a year through AlterNet or other syndication services?’ Well, the answer is simple: Do it for the sake of humanity.”

As PopCult and Pulp Syndicate rise, Sweeping Feature falls.

“After sending out more than 9,000 piece of first-class mail to alternative weekly newspapers, Sweeping Features built a nice client list and achieved a positive cash flow,” says owner Jok Church. “That took us about two years and lots of work. We’re sorry to say that despite this, we find it necessary to shut down the business.”

Sweeping Features ceases operations April 17. A casualty of the closure is the crossword feature, “doubleCross,” whose creator will not continue to produce the puzzle, Church says.

Then there is something called Alt-log which casually collects and posts alternative weekly stories, with commentary.

“Salon used to run a column called Alt, which highlighted stories from that week’s crop of alternative weeklies from all around the country. I loved it,” says the site’s creator, Gael Fashingbauer Cooper. “They’ve stopped running it, so I’ve decided to highlight my own favorites from the week here. Not every alt-weekly will be represented every week (obviously), and the choice of stories is purely based on what interests me.”