Responding to fears that out-of-town owners will change the ethos of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper, Ben Eason tells the St. Petersburg Times that he doesn't want to make any major changes, because the papers "are already at the top of their game." He says his goal with the new six-paper chain is to create "a national platform, national quality technology, that features local content." Creative Loafing also doesn't "have a mandate to share editorial," according to Eason. "If you put your efficiency hat on, could one film reviewer do the same job for everybody? Perhaps, but that connection to film and the local community is something I'm proud of."

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing CEO on New Papers: ‘Why Would You Change Anything?’

CEO Ben Eason tells Editor & Publisher he's not sure if the now-six paper chain will continue to use the Alternative Weekly Network (AWN) for national ad sales or switch over to the competing Ruxton Group, which currently handles ad sales for the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper. "We have been longtime AWN folks," he says. Ruxton, which was founded by the Reader, is now owned by Village Voice Media. Eason says figuring this out is one of his top priorities. He also tells E&P that strength in the national ad market is a key aspect of this week's deal. "Now with Chicago and D.C., all of the sudden you have enough critical mass and it becomes a go-to place for ad agencies on Madison Avenue," he says.

Continue ReadingWho Will the New Creative Loafing Turn to For National Ads?

The Reader's Michael Miner reports that Ben Eason didn't focus on editorial matters in Wednesday's meeting, but rather on "web opportunities, regaining ground lost to Craiglist in classified advertising, and the efficiencies of centralizing the design work in Atlanta," a change Miner notes "is likely to cost a dozen or so Reader employees their jobs." After the meeting, when Miner asked Eason about editorial, he said "it's everything" -- but Miner isn't so sure that's Creative Loafing's approach. He thinks the Creative Loafing papers' design "doesn't respect the stories it ought to serve. If the centralized design staff makes this the look of the Reader ... I think readers will judge it as antithetical to what they've understood the Reader to be." According to Miner, Creative Loafing will turn the Reader into a one-section tabloid, a change the old owners were also planning.

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing CEO Meets With Chicago Reader Staff

"We've received so many overtures over the years and they’ve never come to pass," Bob Roth tells Reader media critic Michael Miner. "[But] we got a better offer than I expected." Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason tells the Washington Post it was an "eight-figure sale" and that he tried to buy the Reader's minority stakes in the Stranger, the Portland Mercury and the Amsterdam Weekly, but that Roth wouldn't sell. Miner tells the Chicago Tribune that the Reader staff is "discombobulated" at the moment. "This has been a very insular paper," Miner says. "We've seen other papers buffeted by change that hasn't affected us until now." Miner also reports that Reader publisher Mike Crystal and editor Alison True will remain with the paper, but production will be moved to Atlanta, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. Production of City Paper will also be moved to Atlanta, where all four of Creative Loafing's papers are currently produced. Back in Washington, editor Erik Wemple says that budget cuts that had already begun will continue, but "there's no fat in our newsroom that I can identify and so this is difficult process. I refuse to pay freelancers less money, and so we'll have to get terribly, terribly creative." MORE COVERAGE: Forbes; Crain's; St. Petersburg Times; Chicago Public Radio.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader, Inc. President: ‘I Guess it Was Time’

The Reader and City Paper, which were both controlled by the founders of the Reader, were acquired today by Creative Loafing Inc., which owns alt-weeklies in Atlanta, Tampa, Sarasota and Charlotte. "Our expansion into Chicago and Washington reflects our confidence in the future of alternative publishing -- in print, on the web and in other media as they emerge," CEO Ben Eason says in a statement. "We've had a great ride," the Chicago Reader Inc. owners say in a separate press statement released by president Bob Roth. "Now we're happily handing the keys to a new generation, Creative Loafing and their CEO Ben Eason. We're confident they will build on what we've established and carry it ably into the future." The Reader statement also notes that most of the company's shareholders will retain their minority interests in The Stranger, Portland Mercury, and Amsterdam Weekly through a company to be called Quarterfold, Inc. MORE: City Paper's Mike DeBonis reports that Eason told the staff that publisher Amy Austin and editor Erik Wemple will remain in their posts but some financial, technology, and production operations will be shifted to offices in Atlanta and Tampa.

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing Inc. Acquires Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper

The publisher of AAN members San Diego CityBeat, Los Angeles CityBeat, ValleyBeat and Pasadena Weekly announced today that Los Angeles New City Monthly will debut in June. The magazine will "celebrate the intellectual and cultural 'renaissance' of LA's Eastside" and will largely be distributed via direct mail, according to a Southland press release. Nikki Bazar, who previously freelanced for Pasadena Weekly, will be editor. The design and production will be handled by the art and production team at CityBeat and ValleyBeat.

Continue ReadingSouthland Publishing Adds a Glossy Monthly to the Mix

The sale of IE Weekly was announced yesterday; the 21-week-old California publication serves a large market in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Publisher Jeremy Zachary, editor Stacy Davies and managing editor Rich Kane -- all former employees of OC Weekly -- will continue in their positions. "In today's merger climate it makes sense that we join the Southland Publishing family, allowing us to better serve our advertisers locally, regionally and nationally," Zachary says.

Continue ReadingSouthland Publishing Buys Inland Empire Weekly

Tampa's alt-weekly was formerly called Creative Loafing, and it will be called that again this fall, according to Editor David Warner. But a "universal brain fart'" led the paper to mistakenly make the change several months ahead of schedule and run its latest issue under the nameplate of its sister publications in Charlotte and Atlanta. "The error was partly due to the fact that while the editing staffs for Tampa and Sarasota are in Florida, design and production for all four papers in the Creative Loafing chain is done in Atlanta," Warner wrote last week on his paper's blog. "But such an error has never occurred before, and we here in Tampa should have been more alert."

Continue ReadingWeekly Planet Changes Name, Prematurely