The December issue contains a lengthy feature on the Louisville Eccentric Observer and its competitor for advertising dollars, Velocity. Velocity is a weekly arts & entertainment tabloid that was spun off from Gannett's local daily, the Courier-Journal. The paper's editor, Jim Lenehan, is confident his faux-alt will attract young readers: "We did a lot of focus groups that told us that this was what they really wanted to see -- that this was the kind of thing they would pick up week after week." (The article is not available on Louisville Magazine's Web site, but the publication kindly allowed us to post a PDF here.)
Thanks to George W. Bush's capital gains tax cuts, John Yarmuth saved a lot of money when he sold Louisville Eccentric Observer last year -- money he's now using to defeat Bush. The founder and executive editor of LEO spent half that money contributing to the Kerry campaign, and now he's spending the other half to buy local TV time for a political ad that makes his case against the incumbent: "With record federal deficits and a war in Iraq, cutting taxes for fortunate people like me was the wrong priority," Yarmuth says in the ad.
The Louisville, Kentucky, weekly was among four publications banned from Kroger, three of them for having sexually suggestive content (in LEO's case, apparently, its adult ads). But what about the sexual content of Cosmopolitan, which is still on the racks, asks executive editor and founder John Yarmuth. He argues that the selective banning constitutes censorship. In an accompanying article, Tom Peterson interviews public relations professionals about Kroger's strategy.
Two weeks after it refused to continue carrying a church newspaper, Kroger is removing three other weekly papers from its free distribution racks. Louisville, Kentucky's alternative weekly, LEO, is among the banned. A Kroger spokesman told reporter Peter Smith of The Courier-Journal that the store's biggest issue with some of the publications was "the sexual nature of much of the advertising they contain." John Yarmuth, LEO's founder and executive editor, calls the ban "a horrible business decision."
Although Velocity is aimed at young adults, it is "not being positioned as a direct competitor" to the 13-year-old AAN-member Louisville Eccentric Observer, claims Ed Manassah, publisher of the local Gannett daily responsible for the new paper. Nevertheless, Manassah sends a shot across LEO's bow when he claims the young-adult "marketplace" is "not being serviced." The new publication's name "is a play off the word `city,' but then there's also the connection to a faster pace and speed," the paper's new editor explains helpfully.
James E. Dible becomes the first non- member of the Mead family to head the Erie, Pa., publishing company that owns majority stakes in AAN-members Cleveland Free Times and the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), as well as the daily Erie Times-News, Editor & Publisher reports. Dible, 60, helped start Cyberlink, an Internet company, and the paper's GoErie.com Web site. He replaces Michael Mead, 65, who is retiring.
A subsidiary of the Erie, Pa. company, formed in March to invest in alternative newspapers and headed by Art Howe, acquires Louisville's alt-weekly only months after its purchase of Cleveland Free Times. Pam Brooks, a longtime Louisville resident and publishing executive, is the new publisher, replacing Blanche Kitchen Brewer, who is retiring. "It was time," explains LEO Executive Editor and co-founder John Yarmuth. "My concern is the best interest of this paper, and it supersedes all personal agendas."
Executive Editor John Yarmuth confirms to a LEO columnist that an acquisition of the Louisville, Ky., alternative is being discussed. Writer Tom Peterson says LEO’s suitors reportedly have an affection — rather than a formula — for operating alternative weeklies. "But as LEO staffers await news, the questions and the uncertainty fly, wafting through the offices, leaking from behind closed office doors and in the wake of hushed conversations," he writes. "Will it happen, and if it does, what will be different?"