After a two-year hiatus, the "How I Got That Story" series today returns to AAN.org to help shed light on the processes employed by first-place AltWeekly Award winners. This year, 19 winners were interviewed by Academy for Alternative Journalism fellows, and each week, two new interviews will be published on AAN.org. These interviews will also appear in the book Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2008, which will be available soon. To read the first installment of the series, Rich Knight's interview with Washington City Paper art critic Jeffry Cudlin, click here.
Baltimore City Paper, Metro Times, Orlando Weekly and the San Antonio Current are as of today exclusively represented by Ruxton for national print advertising, according to a press release. The papers will join their newly-acquired sister paper, the Cleveland Scene, as part of the advertising network owned and operated by Village Voice Media. VVM chief operating officer Scott Tobias says the discussions about joining Ruxton began while VVM and Times-Shamrock were negotiating the sale of the Scene earlier this year. The addition of the four papers means Ruxton has a print presence in 50 American cities, including all of the top 20 markets, with a total weekly print circulation of more than 3.6 million.
Chris Keating, who was publisher of SF Weekly from 2004-2006, will relocate to San Antonio and take over as the Current's publisher effective Aug. 1, AAN News has learned. He replaces Chris Sexson, who took the publisher spot at the Current's Times-Shamrock sister publication Metro Times in mid-June.
CL's publications in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Charlotte and Sarasota have joined the company's Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper as members of Ruxton, according to a press release issued this afternoon by Village Voice Media's national advertising firm. Under the arrangement, Ruxton will serve as Creative Loafing's exclusive representative for national print advertising and also will provide non-exclusive representation for online advertising.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian executive editor offers his take on the deal announced last week that will merge the Cleveland Free Times and Cleveland Scene under new owners Times Shamrock. He wonders why "VVM couldn't create a monopoly, [but] another newspaper outfit apparently can." He's referring to when the Justice Department nixed a similar 2002 deal between New Times and Village Voice Media (then two separate companies) that shuttered the Free Times. Justice forced the sale of Free Times to a group of investors, and the paper reopened in May 2003. "I'll leave it to you to speculate on why we couldn't do this deal, but Times Shamrock could," VVM executive editor Andy Van De Voorde says. Redmond says the Justice Department has yet to respond to his request for comment.
The other shoe has dropped. Times-Shamrock just announced that it is buying Cleveland Free Times as well as the Cleveland Scene, and will merge the two publications into a single paper on July 23. The new paper will be called the Scene, and current Free Times publisher Matt Fabyan will run it. "This is a great addition to our existing group of alternative newsweeklies," says Don Farley, group publisher of Times-Shamrock's stable of alt-weeklies, which now numbers five. "We look forward to serving the greater Cleveland community for many, many years." UPDATE: Fabyan tells the Plain-Dealer that the deal had "been in the works for a while," and Crain's Cleveland Business reports that staffers at each paper are being asked to reapply to the new paper.
Village Voice Media announced today it is selling the Cleveland Scene to Times-Shamrock Communications. Terms of the purchase agreement are not being disclosed; the deal is expected to close on June 25. "We more than achieved our journalistic goals in Cleveland," VVM CEO Jim Larkin says of the paper the company bought in 1998. "This is a staff of remarkably talented and hard-working people. Unfortunately, after ten years, we weren't able to achieve our financial objectives." Times-Shamrock also owns AAN members Baltimore City Paper, Metro Times, the Orlando Weekly, and the San Antonio Current.
A total of 400 people descended on the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown two weeks ago for the 2008 AAN Convention. The three-day event featured the usual mix of presentations and panels, food and booze, and business talk and gossip between alt-weekly staffers and industry types from across North America. AAN committees and staff mostly took care of the first item, while host paper Philadelphia City Paper had the second one covered, and attendees proved themselves more than capable of handling the third on their own.
Saying that the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter tasked with turning in a "breezy" report about last weekend's AAN Convention "must have drawn the short straw," Bruce Schimmel writes that "it must have been challenging for [Suzette] Parmley to do something chipper about industry upstarts who are eating her lunch." But she rose to that challenge, filing what Schimmel calls a "flattering portrait" of alt-weeklies. He goes on to draw distinctions between the cultures of dailies and alt-weeklies, ultimately concluding that "the daily is dying." He adds: "And while that might mean a temporary measure of good fortune for weeklies, even the most eccentric of independents dread the daily's demise. A functional democracy needs the good reporting that comes with these dinosaurs."
The daily paper stopped by this weekend's AAN Convention, and found "a shared belief that alternative weeklies will do just fine in the age of cyberspace and newsroom downsizing." Baltimore City Paper managing editor Erin Sullivan says that as the economy tanks, the paper is reallocating resources, concentrating "on investigative reporting and increasing our criticism. ... Things that the dailies can't or won't do with the same level of depth." Philadelphia City Paper founder Bruce Schimmel tells the Inquirer that competition from blogs and other media has pushed alt-weeklies to be even more aggressive. "Everyone has access to your morgue," he says, "so you better get it right."