LEO's founder, who currently represents Kentucky's Third Congressional District in Congress, says that the recent sale of the paper to SouthComm Communications was "probably a good thing." He tells the 'Ville Voice that the former owners "had lost interest" over the past few years, and that "their business plan wasn't working," because it was based on owning a chain of alt-weeklies, and they only ended up with two. "[SouthComm] obviously cares about the paper, it's part of a business plan that they've already executed, to a certain extent, because they already own multiple papers," Yarmuth says. "Not all are alt-weeklies but they are in the region so they can do regional ad buys and so forth. I think it will be good for the paper."
LEO Weekly earned 19 awards at last Thursday's Society of Professional Journalists Metro Journalism awards ceremony in Louisville, including first place honors for Column Writing, Editorial Cartoon, Minority and Women's Affairs Reporting, and Reviews/Criticism. The paper swept the Column Writing and Reviews/Criticism categories.
The Louisville Eccentric Observer, which was acquired last month by Nashville-based SouthComm Communications, has named Stephen George as editor and Tammy Norkiewicz as sales manager, according to a press release. George, who previously served as managing editor, has been with LEO since January 2005, and Norkiewicz has been an account executive with the paper since December 2005. LEO has also named former associate editor Sara Havens as the new arts & entertainment editor, and has hired 2008 Academy for Alternative Journalism fellow Phillip Bailey as staff writer. Reached via email, George tells AAN News that Bailey will still participate in the scholarship program this summer; the paper is giving him a leave of absence to do so.
The Louisville Eccentric Observer was acquired by SouthComm Communications, a company headed by former Scene publisher Chris Ferrell, according to LEO. The change was announced to staff this morning. Pam Brooks will stay on as publisher, but other LEO staffers were not so lucky. Brooks told a local blog that editor Cary Stemle, sales director Kelly Gream, and two other employees weren't offered positions with the new company. SouthComm, which was formed late last year, owns a custom publishing company based in Atlanta, as well as various Nashville websites and magazines.
Robert Schulman, who joined John Yarmuth and three other investors to launch the paper in 1990, died on Sunday. "He was kind of a conscience of local journalism," says Yarmuth, who is currently serving in Congress. In addition to his role with the Observer, Schulman worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times and was "one of the first full-time media critics in the nation." He was 91 years old.
"In our issue before the Kentucky Derby, we ran an ad for a bar that was holding a 'no celebrities allowed' party," LEO editor Cary Stemle tells AAN News. "At that time of year here, there's lots of fancy parties that involve celebs and it gets tons of attention," he explains. The ad read, in part: "If you have an agent, publicist, third world adopted baby, or front row seats to the Church of Scientology, you have no chance of getting in." Alfonso Lanceta, the chairperson of the enforcement board of the Metro Human Relations Commission, filed a formal complaint against the paper, contending that the ad's text attempted to prevent not Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise from attending its party, but anyone who's adopted a person from the Third World, as well as all Scientologists. After spending more than $5,000 in attorney's fees, LEO settled with the Commission, and had to print an ad this week reaffirming its commitment to uphold non-discrimination standards. "This advertisement is an appeal to the common man in every sense of the term," a University of Louisville dean tells LEO. "I have to believe that the Metro Human Relations Commission didn't get the joke."
Ask and ye shall receive: In last week's paper, LEO ran a short notice inviting employees of Louisville-based health-care giant Humana "to share interoffice memos" the company had prepped on Michael Moore's latest documentary. Several employees came through, and LEO has published three documents this week, all of which repeatedly cite Humana's acknowledgment of America's health care problem, claim that the Congressional testimony of an ex-employee featured in the film is false, and refer all media inquiries to the company's press office.
The alt-weekly placed first in nine categories in this year's Metro Louisville Journalism Awards: business reporting, minority affairs, editorial writing, column writing, feature photography, sports photography, review/criticism, headline writing, and page design. The winners of the awards, which are sponsored by the Metro Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, were announced last night.
Louisville, Ky., probably isn't the easiest place to live car-free, but Louisville Eccentric Observer staff writer Stephen George is giving it a shot. For the next month, he'll try to navigate the city that has only "a single viable mode of public transit." He's blogging the experience for the paper, in part "to prove getting around Louisville without your own ride isn't as hard as it seems."
Freelancers Sherry Deatrick of Louisville Eccentric Observer and Jennifer Smith of Isthmus, and Byron Woods, theater and dance critic for the Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.), have each received fellowships to attend the third National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles. "All the American arts depend on media coverage and intelligent criticism," says NEA chairman Dana Gioia. "The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes provide professional development to improve both the quantity and quality of this country's arts journalism." The Institute, a $1 million NEA initiative, will be conducted next year from Jan. 30 - Feb. 9.