Founder and Editor-in-Chief Russ Smith yesterday sold his iconoclastic weekly to a pair of publishing entrepreneurs for "around $5 million," according to the New York Post. New owners Chuck Coletti and Doug Meadow say they don't plan to do much on the editorial front, besides firing vacationing Editor John Strausbaugh as soon as they can find him. Smith will continue to write his "Mugger" column.
John Heaston told the Omaha World-Leader that he is buying the AAN-member Omaha Reader from the family of the late Alan Baer. Heaston helped to found the Reader before selling his stake in 1999 and later starting up the competing Omaha Weekly. The two papers will merge and, "for now," will be called the Omaha Weekly Reader, according to Heaston.
Sources tell the Los Angeles Times that federal investigators may be pursuing a legal solution that would actually re-open alternative newsweeklies in Los Angeles and Cleveland, the two cities where Village Voice Media and New Times agreed to close papers and eliminate competition. The federal anti-trust investigation is "unusually fast-paced," The Times' Tim Rutten reports. "Clearly, they've decided to move before the bodies get too cold," an anti-trust attorney tells Rutten.
Saying it’s "just business," the Tribune Co. has ordered five Advocate*Weekly billing and administrative staff to move their offices into the Hartford Courant building. The Tribune Co. says the move will help consolidate different billing and other business practices. "People over here are saying that if they do this, what's … next?" Advocate*Weekly CEO Fran Zankowski tells AAN News.
In a letter to the Los Angeles Times responding to a column written by media critic David Shaw, AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel says Shaw's characterization of the alternative newsweekly business "is both inaccurate and misleading." Countering Shaw's assertions, Karpel claims AAN papers "are as unfettered as they ever were and far more independent than their competitors in the mainstream press."
The owner of Impact Weekly is discussing a sale of the paper to Kentucky-based Landmark Community Newspapers Inc., the Dayton Business Journal reports, although Landmark's president says, "We're not even close to making an offer." Yesse! Vice President Kerry Farley, who wants the weekly to focus more on suburban readers, says editorial changes may be in store even if the paper isn't sold. Meanwhile, Yesse! President Craig Hitchcock tells the business journal that ownership of Illinois Times may revert to former owner Fletcher "Bud" Farrar if Yesse! fails to pay the remaining balance on the paper.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian expects to move into its own $4.7 million building sometime this month – where they will "never have to worry about an eviction … never have to worry about a bad landlord," says Executive Editor Tim Redmond. A 1950s era law banning SBA loans to media companies was repealed in 1994. Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express took advantage of the program in 1995. Now the Bay Guardian has swung a deal for a 30,000-square-foot building with a rooftop view of the Bay Bridge thanks to an SBA loan guarantee package.
Tim Keck, publisher of The Stranger in Seattle, has a cash infusion from the Chicago Reader to turn up the heat on his competition. The Reader is now a minority shareholder in Index Newspapers LLC, a company formed early yesterday that now owns and operates The Stranger and The Portland Mercury in Portland, Ore. Keck’s first goal: increase circulation in both markets. “We’ve been bootstrapping it for 10 years,” Keck tells AAN News. “Now we are going to be aggressively growing the business.”