Village Voice Media executive associate editor Andy Van De Voorde tells the Tennessean that the Scene's rumored financial troubles were not what led the company to sell the paper to Nashville-based SouthComm, Inc. "I have no reason to believe that anyone wasn't pleased with [the Scene] financially," he says. Van De Voorde also says that Scene editor Pete Kotz, who came to Nashville after VVM's Cleveland Scene was merged with Free Times, will leave the paper but remain in the VVM chain. Whether other staffing changes are in the works is not yet clear, though Van De Voorde notes that all Scene and Nfocus magazine employees will receive two weeks severance, plus a week of pay for every year of service and unpaid vacation time from VVM -- whether or not they keep their jobs under the new owners.
"The idea, of course, is that with no competition to siphon off advertisers or keep ad prices rock-bottom, one alt-weekly might accomplish what the Free Times and Scene couldn't: make enough money to survive," Scene managing editor Joe Tone says of the recently announced merger. "And it's hard to bemoan the consolidation. Had they not become one, the two papers would have eventually become none." However, Tone notes that, for now, Cleveland "will lose some journalists." In addition to former editor Pete Kotz, who has already left for Nashville, Tone says staff writer Lisa Rab and food critic Elaine Cicora have departed. Frank Lewis, who last week was named the new paper's editor, reports on the Free Times blog that the other managers have been named. Sean Misutka and Joe Strailey have been plucked from the Scene to be ad sales manager and classified sales manager, respectively. And three additional Free Times managers have found homes at the new paper: Steve Antol is the circulation manager; Tim Divis is the business manager, and Steve Miluch is the production manager.
Outgoing editor Liz Garrigan reports that she had "openly recommended Scene managing editor Matt Pulle for [her] job, and he was seriously considered." But in the end, Village Voice Media brought Pete Kotz over from the soon-to-be-defunct Cleveland Scene, a move that was criticized by some of the paper's staff. "Bypassing Matt sent exactly the wrong message to the city: It said that the Scene is just another interchangeable cog in a big corporate wheel," one staffer says anonymously. Former Scene media critic Henry Walker agrees. "The idea of an alternative weekly paper importing an editor would have been almost unthinkable just a decade ago," he says. "[But VVM] has pioneered the adoption of a cookie-cutter news and design formula and the employment of fungible editors among the alternative weeklies." VVM executive editor Michael Lacey, for one, isn't buying Walker's critique. "For nearly 40 years, we, like most alternative newspaper owners, have selected editors, writers and columnists based upon their skill, not their birth certificate," Lacey says. "Walker's simplistic comments reflect parochial jingoism."
Cleveland Scene editor Pete Kotz has been named the new editor of the Nashville Scene in the wake of last week's news that the Cleveland paper will be merged with Cleveland Free Times in July. On July 1, Kotz will replace Liz Garrigan, who announced she was leaving the Nashville alt-weekly in May. "I know Pete from editors' meetings and conventions and can say unequivocally that he's a wonderful guy, a talented journalist and a good soul, if not the 'dangerously handsome man' he claims to be," Garrigan writes. "He has five kids, loves to 'bust a phrase,' holds dear the value of a great story, and prefers to chase his whiskey with beer."
Pete Kotz's upcoming book, "White Trash Etiquette" -- written under the nom de plume Dr. Verne Edstrom, Esq. -- merited his inclusion in a March 18 Washington Post article on "Trailer Park Chic," apparently a hot trend. He was also quoted in an April 3 San Jose Mercury News article on the trashy appeal of the TV show "My Name Is Earl." When questioned on his credentials by AAN News, Kotz said, "I'm probably a half-breed. I'm really good at drinking way too much whiskey and passing out on the asphalt behind the gas station, but I also have this sissy desk job, and the other day I used the word 'poignant,' which is like a gateway drug to much harder sins, like taking up golf. " Broadway Books will release "White Trash Etiquette" on June 13 with a beer-cozy tie-in.