Liz Garrigan, who had recently been helping the Scene out as a freelance contributing editor, will become the interim executive editor for SouthComm's three main Nashville publications: The Scene, The City Paper and SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell, who bought the alt-weekly from Village Voice Media in August, describes Garrigan's new job as "a temporary stint of a few months' duration," during which time she will be responsible for "develop[ing] a more smoothly functioning, integrated organization" in regards to converged editorial operations. The Tennessean reports that the integration has already begun, with SouthComm merging the City Paper's Thursday print edition with the Scene. (The City Paper still publishes a print edition on Monday.)

Continue ReadingEx-Nashville Scene Editor Returns as SouthComm’s Interim Exec. Editor

Longtime PW staffer and well-regarded mental health columnist and blogger Liz Spikol has left the paper. Philip Dawdy reports that Spikol will return to blogging at some point, but is currently taking a bit of a break. Her departure comes on the heels of recently reported layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs at the paper, moves addressed by PW parent company Review Publishing's president and chief operating officer in a statement given to AAN News. "Like most organizations, we needed to take proactive and hopefully temporary measures to preserve as many jobs as possible while best positioning the organization for long term growth," George Troyano writes. "We remain very optimistic about the future and will continue to invest in new initiatives and technologies. We will maintain a strategic and creative approach to best maneuver through these challenging times."

Continue ReadingPhiladelphia Weekly Executive Editor Among Those Leaving the Paper

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."

Continue ReadingNew Nashville Scene Editor Gets Mixed Reaction

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."

Continue ReadingFrom Scene to Scene: Cleveland Editor Heads to Nashville

The New York Times this weekend explored the movement of "mad pride," which entails people publicly speaking frankly about their experiences with mental illness. The Times noted that Philadelphia Weekly senior contributing editor Liz Spikol, who chronicles her struggles with bipolar disorder for the paper in her column and on her blog, is a leading and prominent voice in this area. Spikol says she's "so excited" to be in the article -- and so is her mom. "Imagine my mom seeing the link on Mother's Day, and keep in mind, we are a Jewish family," she writes. "We ran to WaWa to get a copy of the paper because, for some reason, I wouldn't believe it was 'real' until I saw the print edition." The Times also traces the origins of the prominent online forum and support network The Icarus Project to the alt-weekly world -- it began six years ago when "one of its founders ... wrote about his bipolar disorder in the San Francisco Bay Guardian."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Scribe’s Work on Mental Illness is Part of Growing Trend

Liz Garrigan says in a blog post that she'll be leaving the paper at the end of June to become editorial director of Magellan Media, an umbrella company of book imprints and (non-newspaper) publishing enterprises. "I'm attempting something pretty rare in journalism these days: a chance to make an exit while I'm still having an enormous amount of fun," she writes. "It might be a bit anticlimactic, but this is not a protest resignation, a corporate cost-cutting measure or a veiled firing." She says she hopes to continue contributing to the Scene, but "after 12 years at one place -- as political writer, news editor, associate editor, then editor -- it's time for this root-bound journalist to repot herself."

Continue ReadingNashville Scene Editor to Step Down

In a live chat yesterday, Liz Garrigan discussed her recent Washington Post piece on Fred Thompson's presidential chances and briefly highlighted two elements of alt-weekly journalism. After she said Al Gore won't enter the 2008 race because "he's got swimming pools to heat," a reader complained about Garrigan's off-hand remark. "Snarky asides help to pay my bills," she replied. Later, when a reader asked if she "might want to at least appear objective," Garrigan took the question head-on. "Part of what distinguishes alt-weeklies from mainstream media is that we don't peddle objectivity (or even think it's possible)," she said. "We do value fairness and balance but in the context of point of view. But that's another chat."

Continue ReadingNashville Scene Editor Talks Fred Thompson, Alt-Weeklies in Chat

Music City Mayor Bill Purcell announced last week that he has hired Liz Garrigan's husband Curt as his number two, a post he will fill for eight months. To avoid conflict of interest, Liz Garrigan says in an editor's note that she will recuse herself of all writing and editing duties involving stories "dealing specifically with Purcell, my husband or the mayor's office." She will not shy away from city politics altogether, however, and will continue to weigh in on subjects such as "the upcoming mayor's race, pieces about development and growth, [and] the Metro Council." MORE SCENE NEWS: Former staffer Jeff Woods will rejoin the paper after a stint as an editor for Scripps Howard News Service. Woods, says Garrigan, "will be covering pretty much whatever he damn well wants."

Continue ReadingNashville Scene Editor’s Spouse Tapped As Deputy Mayor

Liz Spikol, the managing editor of Philadelphia Weekly, has chronicled her struggles with mental illness in her weekly column, on her blog, and now, on YouTube videos. Her latest, "From Depression to Desperation" (below), was briefly on the first page of YouTube's top-rated section. Although the main topic of the video is Spikol's experience with electroshock therapy, the viewer comments often include opinions on Spikol's two pairs of glasses, as PW's "Philadelphia Will Do" blog notes.

Continue ReadingPhiladelphia Weekly Managing Editor Makes Fans on YouTube