"Memphis magazine publisher Kenneth Neill somehow managed to convince the company's board members to invest in an idea he had: a free weekly tabloid that would be called the Memphis Flyer," editor Bruce VanWyngarden writes in an introduction to the paper's 20th anniversary issue. "The first issue hit the streets in February 1989." In another column, Neill explains why the paper didn't celebrate the actual anniversary back in February. "February 2009 did not seem a particularly good time for a 20-year celebration," he writes. "The economy was in the toilet, and our spirits weren't far behind."

Continue ReadingMemphis Flyer Celebrates 20th Annivesary

SF Weekly reports the city of San Francisco is reaching out to a handful of websites to potentially run public notice ads, including the website of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. But Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann says the paper has no intention of participating. "We don't bid, or go in for these city contracts, and we don't intend to do it now," he tells the Weekly.

Continue ReadingBay Guardian Says it Won’t Run City’s Public Notice Ads on Website

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."

Continue ReadingCity Paper Founder on the Inquirer’s Convention Report

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."

Continue ReadingPhilly Inquirer: Mood at Convention Was ‘Resoundingly Upbeat’

"Thanks primarily to a rather sensationalistic story on WREG Channel 3 Wednesday night, John Branston's City Beat column from this week's Flyer seems to be generating some controversy," writes editor Bruce VanWyngarden. In the column, Branston asks who should be "the HNIC" of Memphis City Schools, a term meaning "head [N-word] in charge" that refers to the film Lean on Me. VanWyngarden writes that, as editor, he takes responsibility for the column and the phrase. "I apologize to those who were offended by the use of the term in John's column. It was not intended as a racial slur but as a cultural reference to a very real and important decision facing our school board," he writes. "Lost in the controversy is the fact that in his column Branston asks some very pointed and relevant questions of potential superintendent candidates -- questions we ought to be asking." Nevertheless, the one source the TV station has that is upset about the whole thing is still calling for Branston to be fired.

Continue ReadingMemphis Flyer Columnist’s Use of ‘HNIC’ Creates a Stir

In a letter from the editor celebrating the milestone, Bruce VanWyngarden traces the history of the Flyer, from its February 1989 debut to this week's issue. VanWyngarden gives props to previous editors Tim Sampson and Dennis Freeland, as well as Flyer publisher and former AAN Board President Kenneth Neill, and the staffers who rarely get such recognition. "The people who do count are those who create your weekly Flyer -- the writers, editors, art directors, ad sales folks, and others who make this publication possible," he writes.

Continue ReadingThe Memphis Flyer Prints its 1,000th Issue

He replaces Pat Kelly, publisher for the past six years, who "traded our local glitz for a beachcomber's life in Mexico," according to the Weekly. Spotleson, who helped launch the Weekly in 1998, has also worked on the editorial side within the New Times chain. There have been other moves in the paper's offices recently. Sales manager Nelson Oshita is now associate publisher, and the paper picked up two new staffers from Las Vegas Life: managing editor Ken Miller and associate editor T.R. Witcher.

Continue ReadingBruce Spotleson Takes Over as Las Vegas Weekly Publisher

"There's more to the Bay Guardian-VVM fight than ill will and purple prose," writes Boston Phoenix media reporter Adam Reilly. "The two sides have predictably divergent takes on the merits of the outcome. But they agree that its legal ramifications go far beyond the Bay Area and the alt-weekly universe." Guardian publisher and editor Bruce Brugmann tells the Phoenix that the suit sets an example for small businesses everywhere. "Everyone can use our suit as a model and template for any big chain that's coming in and trying to predatory-price them," he says. But SF Weekly attorney Jim Wagstaffe thinks that if the judge grants the Guardian's request for an injunction for the Weekly to stop all below-cost sales as the case winds its way through the courts, "the result here could dramatically harm consumers. If every one of [a publication's] ad sales is scrutinized to make sure it's not, quote-unquote, too low, then what'll happen is, publications will raise their prices to avoid getting sued." The Guardian notes that interest will accrue on the judgment at a rate of 10 percent a year. "That means the Weekly and VVM will be paying $4,000 a day in interest for as long as they seek to dispute and appeal the jury decision," the Guardian reports.

Continue ReadingMore on the Bay Guardian/VVM Verdict

The last three witnesses took the stand yesterday in the Guardian's predatory pricing trial against SF Weekly and Village Voice Media. Guardian publisher and editor Bruce Brugmann and associate publisher Jean Dibble were brought back to the stand, this time by the Weekly's attorneys; they were followed by Bay Area publisher Bill Johnson, whose papers include AAN members the Palo Alto Weekly and Pacific Sun. The trial takes a day off today, and closing arguments begin Thursday morning. For more details, read the latest from the Weekly and the Bay Guardian.

Continue ReadingClosing Arguments in Bay Guardian/VVM Trial Set for Thursday

Although their dispatches read as if they're reporting from two different trials, both SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian agree that the temperature in the courtroom rose on Tuesday when the Bay Guardian's editor and publisher, Bruce Brugmann, took the stand. According to VVM's Andy Van De Voorde, Brugmann "exploded on the stand ... pounding his hand on the witness box, raising his voice, and growing red-faced." But Bay Guardian executive editor Tim Redmond says his boss "stood up remarkably well under a cross-examination" and "generally made the SF Weekly's lawyer look silly." The Bay Guardian filed a more extensive report on the trial here, while SF Weekly posted dispatches following the action on Friday and Monday.

Continue ReadingFireworks in SFBG-VVM Trial as Brugmann Testifies