According to a case management summary (pdf) filed in Creative Loafing's bankruptcy proceedings on Monday, revenues are off at the six-paper alt-weekly chain. Atlanta Magazine's Steve Fennessy reports that when CL was looking for financing to purchase the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper, it projected the expanded company would see revenues of $43 million in fiscal year 2008. But the court filing says that revenue in FY08, ending June 30, 2008, was $35 million, and predicts that sales in the first quarter of FY09 will be only $3.5 million. In other CL bankruptcy news, Washington City Paper has published a statement from one of the company's lenders, Atalaya, which says the bankruptcy filing was "unfortunate and unnecessary," and assures "all interested parties that Atalaya has no intention of attempting to shut down the business." MORE: City Paper editor Erik Wemple talks to the George Washington University student paper The Hatchet about the changes in store as the paper shifts focus.

Continue ReadingCourt Filings Shed Light on Creative Loafing’s Finances

On Atlanta Magazine's blog, former Creative Loafing (Atlanta) staffer Steve Fennessy talks to Ben Eason -- who he calls "a tireless networker with a love of jargon" -- and a few worried staffers about this week's filing. Eason reiterates a few points he's been making to the press this week, and adds that, despite his web-first strategy, he doesn't envision a time when his publications don't produce actual newspapers. MORE: Read more from Creative Loafing's John Sugg, Washington City Paper's Angela Valdez, Gawker, and consultant Mark Potts.

Continue ReadingStill More on the Creative Loafing Bankruptcy Filing

The company, which owns Creative Loafing papers in Atlanta, Charlotte, Sarasota and Tampa, as well as the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning, the St. Petersburg Times reports. City Paper editor Erik Wemple reports that CEO Ben Eason discussed the filing with top company officials in a conference call this morning, and said that the bankruptcy filing would allow CL's six papers to establish a greater online presence while the company reorganizes its operations. A corporate memo on the filing says it "has little to do with the acquisition" of the Reader and City Paper last year. Eason also said that the move entails no liquidation or layoffs. In fact, the Chapter 11 filing will roll back editorial staff cuts at the papers, Wemple writes. MORE: Read more about the move from Creative Loafing (Tampa), the Reader, Crain's and Bloomberg News.

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Reader media columnist Michael Miner reports that publisher Michael Crystal resigned from the paper yesterday. The interim publisher is Kirk MacDonald, who is chief operating officer of Creative Loafing, Inc. He expects to spend three days a week in Chicago, according to the Reader. Steve Timble, the founding publisher of Time Out Chicago, has been named the new associate publisher, and is "Crystal's heir apparent," according to Miner. Crystal, who had been publisher since 2004, will move back to Seattle. "[He] was an unruffled sort of executive whose manner recalled the good old days at the Reader, when there was nothing much to get ruffled about," Miner writes. "Those of us who remember those days remember them fondly." In other Reader news, this week the paper launches a pullout music section and additional design updates.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader Publisher Resigns

The paper had been named as a party to a defamation suit by former assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation James Sachay, which alleged that political activist Frank Coconate had written a comment on one of the Reader's blogs and attributed it to Sachay. The Reader "argued in its motion to dismiss that it enjoys immunity under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which draws a distinction between a publisher that selects what to publish and the proprietor of a public web forum," Michael Miner writes. "This distinction holds even if the website provider makes some effort to police the site. (Someone here took down the offending comment sometime after it appeared.)" Last week the paper was dismissed as a defendant in response to a new motion filed by Sachay. His amended suit against only Coconate will continue.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader Dropped as Defendant in Defamation Suit

Former assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation James Sachay has filed suit against the Reader and political activist Frank Coconate for defamation after a comment on the paper's "Clout City" blog was attributed to him, CBS-2 Chicago reports. According to the suit, Coconate wrote the incriminating comment, dated January 31 at 7:37 a.m., and attributed it to Sachay. Despite the Reader having a comments policy that states, in part, "please note that commenters are free to use whatever name(s) they choose," the suit claims the paper was negligent for not screening the blog. The four-count suit asks for more than $800,000 from Coconate and the Reader.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader Named in Defamation Suit

Last week Jonathan Rosenbaum retired from his full-time job at the Reader, but the paper says he'll continue reviewing for the paper and writing for its website. The Reader, which has been Rosenbaum's home for more than 20 years, has compiled some of his favorite reviews and has a two-part video interview where he discusses his departure. He says he is leaving to have more free time. "I hope it won't be lessening my productivity, but it'll be shifting it to things that ... I'm more interested in, and not having to see a lot of movies that I'm not interested in." He says he'd also like to be able to do "other kinds of writing which would be broader than film criticism."

Continue ReadingLongtime Chicago Reader Film Critic Retires