Freelance journalist Becky Oberg wanted to expand her reportage for NUVO, an Indianapolis alt-weekly, into a book. Carlo DeVito, publisher of Chamberlain Bros., a Penguin imprint, was looking for new projects. Despite the fact that Oberg was, in her words, "an unknown, unagented, first-time author," DeVito called her and asked if she'd turn her story about an Army private's desertion to Canada via an "underground railroad" into a book. Why was a publisher scouring alt-weeklies for book ideas? Says DeVito: "We're always looking for a good story and a new point of view, and that's what a lot of these papers express."
Patrick Best, a former ad salesman at Creative Loafing Atlanta, will launch The Sunday Paper next month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He hopes to reach affluent 25- to 44-year-olds tired of what he perceives as some alternative weeklies' left-leaning and pessimistic slant. "Being an American and living in the United States is a good thing," he says. "We will not be constantly, ad nauseam, critiquing it to the point people don't feel good about it." Fifty-thousand copies of the paper will be distributed each Saturday in the city's high-rent ZIP codes and northern suburbs.
"When you're out there and you're living that fast life, you can never say what you wouldn't do," Falicia Blakely tells Mara Shalhoup in a jailhouse interview. Shalhoup reconstructs the events that led an 18-year-old to commit murder. The nude dancer was seduced by a club patron who bought diapers by the caseload for her baby and later insisted she sell herself to bring in cash. When her pimp made the ultimate demand, she delivered. The Creative Loafing Atlanta cover story is the first in a series.
Rather than just deliver the same old reliable features and columns every week, editors of AAN papers look for ways to tweak their content, thus attracting new readers and re-engaging the faithful. But there's no sense rounding up a focus group to predict what new ingredients will work when freelancers, staff and the guy on the next barstool are all eager to give their advice. John Dicker interviews editors of four weeklies who messed with the mix to get happy results.
President Jay Smith and his chief financial officer, Charles "Buddy" Solomon, voted against censuring themselves for "violating business and journalism ethical standards" but were overruled by the other six members of Creative Loafing Inc.'s board of directors. The resolution's author, Sterling "Jim" Soderlind, accused the Cox executives of getting "a very good education in the alternative newspaper business while sitting on our board," and then using that knowledge to launch a competing free newspaper, Access Atlanta. John Sugg's Nov. 20 report on the meeting was followed by Smith's response the next week.
National Rifle Association member and right-wing firebrand Bob Barr was hired recently to write a regular column for the Creative Loafing chain's flagship paper in Atlanta. Editor Ken Edelstein hopes that publishing Barr will broaden readers' perspectives -- and spice up the paper. "Alternative newspapers tend to be a bit predictable, and having a guest columnist who adds another dimension is a good thing," he tells AAN News.
The Board of Directors of Creative Loafing, Inc., announced that it will investigate two of its directors from Cox Newspapers, Inc., owner of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The question is whether the two directors used the confidential board meetings to learn enough about publishing alternative newsweeklies to launch "accessAtlanta" as a direct competitor to Creative Loafing (Atlanta).