The response to Ben Westhoff's "The Efron Scandal," which "revealed" that Lil' Wayne and Zac Efron were working together on High School Musical 2: Non-Stop Dance Party and that the two even shared a "full-on kiss," was enough to temporarily crash the Weekly's servers, the paper reports. But not everyone got the joke: the story was picked up as truth by outlets as diverse at VH1 and the British tabloid The Sun. "The overwhelming impression I have over the hysteria 'The Efron Scandal' has generated is that some people don't recognize comedy gold, even as it's repeatedly conking them upside their thick heads," writes Weekly music editor Dave Segal.

Continue ReadingFake OC Weekly Story ‘Gets Internet’s Panties in a Bunch’

"While it is easy to blame mean and nasty CEOs for trimming budgets, the fact is that our journalism, advertising and our content needs to be and are being re-conceived," Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason says in a memo to employees leaked to Poynter's Jim Romenesko. In the memo, Eason tells his employees that most of the post-merger integration -- including staffing decisions -- of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper into the CL family is complete. "I'm very pleased with how the new company has come together," he says. "We are positioned well to take advantage of the future."

Continue ReadingBen Eason Weighs in on the State of Creative Loafing

"Friday was a rough day at the Loaf, perhaps even rougher at our new brethren papers in Washington and Chicago," writes Creative Loafing (Atlanta) editor-in-chief Ken Edelstein. "In Atlanta, we laid off four sales people, a marketing assistant, a sales assistant and our wonderful assistant distribution manager." He adds that the six-paper company is going through the same sort of difficult transition that's hitting other media companies, before noting that his paper's online readership continues to grow. "How that audience growth translates into ad dollars is the business question that [CEO] Ben [Eason] and the folks on the sales side of our business are going to have to grapple with for a long time -- and continuously."

Continue ReadingSeven Creative Loafing Employees Laid Off

The Times columnist says that given all of the newspaper industry's woes, last week's Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper newsroom layoffs might not seem significant. But Carr, who was editor of the City Paper in the 1990s, thinks the cuts illustrate the larger issue of an industry-wide abandonment of investigative journalism. Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason says that's not the case. "We are not trying to make any other statement here other than it is a competitive world out there and we are doing what we can to make sure we are putting out an excellent paper in the communities we serve," he tells the Times.

Continue ReadingDavid Carr: Muckraking Pays, Just Not in Profit

John Conroy, Harold Henderson, Tori Marlan and Steve Bogira were laid off this week by editor Alison True, Michael Miner writes on his News Bites blog. True tells the Chicago Tribune that, given the mandate to cut costs by her new bosses at Creative Loafing in August, it became difficult to afford their work. "The numbers are part of a deal that was structured a long time ago," she says. "Even if [CEO Ben Eason] were the most passionate journalist in the world, he wouldn't have the option of saying, 'I'll give you a little extra this year so this doesn't have to happen.' He's bound to his deal." Meanwhile, Fishbowl DC is reporting that five editorial staffers were laid off at the Reader's sister paper today: Washington City Paper writers Joe Eaton, Amanda S. Miller, Tim Carman and Jessica Gould, and editorial assistant Joe Dempsey, are all no longer with the paper.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader & Washington City Paper Editorial Staffers Laid Off

Earlier this month, the National Association of Black Journalists announced the winners of the 2007 Salute to Excellence Awards, which "recognize exemplary coverage of people of color or issues in the African Diaspora." Riverfront Times took home two first-place awards: Kristen Hinman for her "Basketball by the Book" series, in the Enterprise division; and Ben Westhoff for "Ace of Spaides," in the Business division. Seattle Weekly's Nina Shapiro also placed first in the Feature division for "Schooling the District."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Win Three NABJ Awards

Responding to fears that out-of-town owners will change the ethos of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper, Ben Eason tells the St. Petersburg Times that he doesn't want to make any major changes, because the papers "are already at the top of their game." He says his goal with the new six-paper chain is to create "a national platform, national quality technology, that features local content." Creative Loafing also doesn't "have a mandate to share editorial," according to Eason. "If you put your efficiency hat on, could one film reviewer do the same job for everybody? Perhaps, but that connection to film and the local community is something I'm proud of."

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing CEO on New Papers: ‘Why Would You Change Anything?’

The columnist and Creative Loafing shareholder says his company's acquisition of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper is neither an "idealistic foray" nor a "hostile takeover of independent papers." The way Sugg sees it, the two papers were caught up in a "broader crisis in the publishing business" that their former owners weren't nimble enough to navigate. He also defends CEO Ben Eason, who hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms in Chicago and Washington. "He believes alt-weeklies can help readers strengthen their communities," says Suggs. "Eason loves to see controversy in his newspapers. He admits mistakes, takes risks and has an ambitious vision for new media. His lieutenants often disagree with him; he listens ... sometimes."

Continue ReadingCL’s John Sugg: Our New Chain is More than a Balance Sheet

The Reader's Michael Miner reports that Ben Eason didn't focus on editorial matters in Wednesday's meeting, but rather on "web opportunities, regaining ground lost to Craiglist in classified advertising, and the efficiencies of centralizing the design work in Atlanta," a change Miner notes "is likely to cost a dozen or so Reader employees their jobs." After the meeting, when Miner asked Eason about editorial, he said "it's everything" -- but Miner isn't so sure that's Creative Loafing's approach. He thinks the Creative Loafing papers' design "doesn't respect the stories it ought to serve. If the centralized design staff makes this the look of the Reader ... I think readers will judge it as antithetical to what they've understood the Reader to be." According to Miner, Creative Loafing will turn the Reader into a one-section tabloid, a change the old owners were also planning.

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing CEO Meets With Chicago Reader Staff

Holly Mullen was most recently a columnist at the Salt Lake Tribune, where she resigned in December after one of her columns was pulled by a Tribune editor. She was previously a staff writer at AAN-member papers Twin Cities Reader (from 1990-1993) and the Dallas Observer (1995-1998). Mullen replaces Ben Fulton, who is on a leave of absence, but may return to the paper in a different position, according to City Weekly officials. On her blog, Mullen says she's "crazy-excited" about her new job. "I like the idea of heading up a newspaper that, instead of constantly ruminating and stressing over how to gain readers in the elusive 18-34 age category, tries to attract them with basic, good journalism," she says.

Continue ReadingSalt Lake City Weekly Names New Editor