Tom Nattell, 52, an alt-weekly contributor and lifelong activist, succumbed to cancer on Tuesday. "By day, he worked most of his adulthood as a research scientist," reads an Albany Times Union article that preceded his death. "Nights and weekends, [he] was tear-gassed, arrested and imprisoned" for standing on "the front lines of seemingly every issue of social justice that washed up the Hudson." Given only months to live, he was "keeping a daily journal, practicing yoga, e-mailing friends, railing against President Bush" and finding peace where he could. In his most recent column for Metroland, Nattell wrote: "This column . . . has provided some solace for me during these recent difficulties, and I appreciate having had the opportunity to share my thoughts with you over the years."

Continue ReadingMetroland Columnist Was Preparing to Die

Interviewed by the Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk, Washington City Paper editor Erik Wemple says the reports of his profession's death are greatly exaggerated. "I just am not buying into this journalistic apocalypse," he says. He thinks a lot of papers, including the one he edits, serve their communities well. Turning a critical eye on alt-weeklies, Wemple cites predictability as the root of "whatever malaise might exist" in the industry. "Alt-weeklies do descend from a certain tradition where it's no surprise that the editorial is slamming Bush or supporting Kerry or Nader," he says.

Continue ReadingWashington City Paper Editor Dishes on State of Journalism, Alts

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.

Continue ReadingLEO Founder Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

Nearly two decades ago, Bradley Zeve bought a failing Monterey County tourist paper called Coasting and gradually transformed it into what is now Monterey County Weekly, reports Ruth Hammond. Celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, the paper owes its longevity to Zeve's approach: Plan carefully, know your audience, and be prepared to weather disasters. The result is a paper that claims the second-highest household penetration -- around 30 percent -- among papers in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. "By having a huge household penetration, we have a lot of influence," says Zeve.

Continue ReadingMonterey County Weekly Celebrates Its Sweet 16th

Russ Smith, founder of Baltimore City Paper and co-founder of New York Press, talks to Gawker about the state of alternative papers. He thinks the industry is dealing with "the brain drain of talented youngsters who, 20 years ago, would be fresh blood but are now involved with Internet projects." Smith then tells writers Andrew Krucoff and Chris Gage that editors hoping to sustain alt-weekly success need to "focus on the quality of writing, rather than knee-jerk politics and Quentin Tarantino hagiography."

Continue ReadingNew York Press Co-Founder Says Weeklies “At a Crossroads”

Nikki Finke, who writes the Deadline Hollywood column for L.A. Weekly, has become essential reading for those who follow the Industry, reports Los Angeles Magazine. Capitalizing on her position as both insider (with numerous longtime sources) and outsider (what studio exec would talk to an alt-weekly reporter?), she reveals, critiques and influences showbiz power. "Nikki is part of a tradition of women reporters in Hollywood who terrify people," says Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Feirstein.

Continue ReadingFirebrand L.A. Weekly Reporter Scorches Tinseltown

Brad Nelson, the 33-year-old founder, editor and publisher of Duluth, Minnesota’s Ripsaw News, moonlights as the drummer for the blues-rocking Black-Eyed Snakes. Although he occasionally leaves the paper for weeks at a time to join the band on tour, Ripsaw has helped revitalize the city’s small indie scene and raised its political awareness.

Continue ReadingAAN’S Smallest Paper Publishes in Rock ‘n’ Roll Time