Duane Swierczynski is the new editor of Philadelphia City Paper, filling the spot left vacant when Howard Altman was fired in June 2004. Adding an interesting twist to the hiring is that in 1999 the paper published a mildly scathing rebuke regarding the publication of a phony article Swierczynski wrote for Philadelphia magazine about a gay Mummer. (Mummers are blue-collar guys who paint themselves to look like super-mimes and march through Philly each Jan. 1.) Publisher Paul Curci tells Dan Gross of the Philadelphia Daily News that City Paper staffers deem the long-ago hoax "a nonissue."

Continue ReadingPhiladelphia City Paper Names New Editor

Sometimes word of mouth is a more effective way of promoting a paper than a print ad. That's why some alternative newsweeklies send street teams out to bars, movie theaters and cultural events to hand out freebies and stir up interest in their papers. When they dispatch their street teams to public places, alt-weeklies like NUVO and Boston's Weekly Dig are relying on a centuries-old marketing technique the music industry revived.

Continue ReadingStreet Teams Imitate Medieval Marketing Tactics

Rather than just deliver the same old reliable features and columns every week, editors of AAN papers look for ways to tweak their content, thus attracting new readers and re-engaging the faithful. But there's no sense rounding up a focus group to predict what new ingredients will work when freelancers, staff and the guy on the next barstool are all eager to give their advice. John Dicker interviews editors of four weeklies who messed with the mix to get happy results.

Continue ReadingAAN Editors Think Local in Adding Content

Earlier this year a Philadelphia City Paper writer received e-mails from one "Mr. Fantastic" offering information and pictures from within one of the Army's top-secret facilities, Editor Howard Altman writes. Now Maurice Threats, 21, an Army MP, has been indicted on charges of espionage and bribery. "This case came from calls that City Paper placed to us," Martin Carlson, assistant U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Pennsylvania, tells Altman. However, federal prosecutors won't confirm that Threats and "Mr. Fantastic" are the same person. [This is an updated version of last week's story.]

Continue ReadingCity Paper Investigation Leads to Espionage Charges

Howard Altman, executive editor of Philadelphia City Paper, describes for AJR how a Saint Jack's Bar ad featuring the Thai King in hip-hop regalia nearly severed relations between the United States and Thailand. "It certainly was not the first advertising complaint City Paper had ever received, considering that we once printed an ad for a bar depicting the Virgin Mary with udders," Altman writes. "But this complaint was different. It was from an unhappy representative of a foreign government."

Continue ReadingHow a City Paper Ad Nearly Triggered an International Incident

Saint Jack's bar and restaurant has withdrawn its ad in the Philadelphia City Paper depicting the king of Thailand (a demi-God to his people) as a "bling-bling hipster," but the letters and e-mails continue to roll in, Howard Altman writes. "One man explained. 'It's like if I dig your beloved parents body from the grave. And I kick them like toys then I drag them through the very long road. Finally, I leave your parent's body for dogs and the dogs might not eat them cuz they are so terrible ... can you take it if it's just my 'Joke' ha?!'"

Continue ReadingAngry Thais Deluge City Paper with E-Mails

Thailand has threatened to cut off relations with the United States beause of an ad run in the Philadelphia City Paper. "The ad -- which depicts [Thai King Bhumibol] Adulyadej as a bling-bling hipster with bleached highlights, lines shaved into his hair, stone-encrusted glasses and a shirt that sports an Adidas logo" was run by a suburban housewife for her restaurant, Howard Altman writes.

Continue ReadingAd Sparks International Incident

With a terse note, Philadelphia City Paper kills its serialized novel, Transit of Venus by Anonymous D, because the local Fox affiliate threatened a lawsuit. The novel about a young woman's experiences as a TV news neophyte apparently cut too close to the Fox bone. The chapters published to date have been removed from the newspapers' Web site.

Continue ReadingCity Paper Yanks Series After Fox Threatens to Sue