Playing off of parent company Creative Loafing's recent filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Washington City Paper says in a spoof news release and court filing that it has filed "voluntary petitions for content reorganization, citing diminished staff and the flagging confidence of its readers." The release notes that the paper "will continue to publish under court protection from its readers, who have wielded an unreasonable degree of power over the publication's future."

Continue ReadingCity Paper Files for ‘Chapter 86 Content Bankruptcy Protection’

In a conversation with D.C.-area public radio host Kojo Nnamdi about "the changing face of City Paper," Erik Wemple says that "perhaps a little too much has been made of" his previous comments on the fate of long-form narrative pieces in the paper. Those stories are "an incredible abyss of work," he says. "We could not really sustain that sort of investment, while at the same time feeding the website." However, he adds, "it's not as if we will stop doing long narrative altogether," it will just be less often. He also notes that long-form narratives often don't generate much web traffic, and that Creative Loafing has made the web a priority. "If we don't come up with models that push web traffic, we are dead, and I am out of a job," Wemple says.

Continue ReadingWashington City Paper Editor Talks More About the Changes to Come

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

The Georgetown Voice's nearly 3,000-word story on the alt-weekly looks at how it is evolving under the ownership of Creative Loafing, and how the paper is fighting to maintain its identity -- and market share -- despite having fewer resources. "You want to create a rich environment and then bring it down into the print," says CL CEO Ben Eason, who is currently focused on uniting the company's six papers as a national web presence. "Without a doubt, the web is a far richer environment than print." Editor Erik Wemple says he sees the paper a year from now as being "very, very, very much a web machine." But publisher Amy Austin adds that, while online advertising revenue is quickly growing for City Paper, it still only makes up approximately 5 percent of the paper's total revenue, which has been in decline. By 2006, the paper's net revenue -- traditionally around 15 percent -- had fallen to 4.7 percent.

Continue ReadingWashington City Paper Shifting to More Web-Centric Approach

That's according to managing editor Andrew Beaujon, who notes that the paper recently produced new promotional magnets and pens, on top of making promo hats earlier in the month. "As you may have read, we are facing budget cuts," Beaujon writes. "So I guess I'm wondering whether the hats are a tactic to comfort or maybe confuse us -- perhaps if our heads are warm, we may not worry so much about our newsroom possibly going kablooey?"

Continue ReadingWashington City Paper Has a ‘New-Found Promotional Intensity’

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

DCist reports that City Paper's parent company Creative Loafing needs to cut the paper's budget by $170,000. The belt-tightening could lead to additional layoffs at the alt-weekly (some production and editorial staffers were laid off after CL purchased City Paper and the Chicago Reader last year). "Like a lot of media companies, we are going through an exceptionally rough period, and indeed we are discussing how to cut expenses," editor Erik Wemple tells DCist. "I don't want to cite any figures at this point because we are trying our best as a company to minimize the impact. But yes, layoffs are part of the discussion."

Continue ReadingMore Staff Cuts Could Be On the Horizon at Washington City Paper

"Books coverage at American daily newspapers is asphyxiating. That's the bad news," writes Washington City Paper's Mark Athitakis. "Here's more bad news: The situation is just as dire at alternative weeklies." He goes on to cite the cost-cutting that occurred when Creative Loafing purchased City Paper last year as an example. But he says there are reasons to be optimistic about alt-weeklies. "We've taken one hell of a beating, but our basic mandate -- to give people informed and lively coverage of subjects that often fall outside the larger media's radar -- remains intact," Athitakis writes. "And books are still part of that mandate." He wraps up his post by listing some tips for any critics hoping to contribute to alt-weeklies.

Continue ReadingCity Paper Arts Editor on the State of Book Coverage at Alt-Weeklies