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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chapter 11 Loafing

posted by on October 7 at 10:51 AM

Last week, Atlanta-based alt-weekly chain Creative Loafing (recent purchasers of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper) filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Atlanta Magazine has a grim look at the perfect storm of bad news that hit the company in the last three months (declining ad sales, rising gas prices, tanking economy, etc.) as well as its probable future (spoiler alert: online content aggregation!):

Unfortunately, the purchase of the Chicago and D.C. papers couldn’t have come at a worse time. The housing market was crashing, which cut advertising revenues by up to fifteen percent. “It wasn’t the nightclubs or the retail stores,” he said. “It was housing. Furniture was just gone.” And Eason’s cost-cutting measures—like centralizing production of all the papers out of Atlanta—wasn’t saving enough money to offset the losses. Earlier this year, he ordered more layoffs at his papers. But it wasn’t enough. This summer, with gas prices creeping up, ad sales took an even bigger hit.

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If the Chicago Reader goes, that would double suck.

Posted by Scott in Chi-town | October 7, 2008 11:06 AM

I am going to start clicking like mad on all you guys's online ads. Like. Mad.

Posted by tomasyalba | October 7, 2008 11:09 AM

Creative Loafing has gutted the content of the DC and Chicago papers-comics, columns, etc. Historically, they have run sunbelt papers that do little investigative reporting and which pull punches locally. The DC and Chicago papers historically, have been more like real alt weeklies.

The papers never should have sold, at least not to Creative Loafing, which not long ago went through an acrimonious family fight and really could not take on the debt that camewith this acquisition. The head of Creative Loafing is a platitude spewing mediocrity, who fit the profile of the papers quite well. He and his siblings wrested control from their mother who was more visionary, but apparently a piece of work.

Posted by Rich | October 7, 2008 11:10 AM

What #3 said. Creative Loafing is no great loss.

Posted by Sweeney Agonistes | October 7, 2008 11:24 AM

I've lived in DC since 2001. Pre-CL City Paper versus post-CL City Paper is not even close: Creative Loafing virtually destroyed DC's alt weekly (Chicago's too, from what I've heard).

It was terrible to watch. Cut backs, redesign, and now cover stories that read like blog posts when the paper used to do pretty great long-form stuff journalism.

Sad shit.

Posted by sw | October 7, 2008 11:35 AM

i've been in d.c. 2 yrs, so i can't compare pre- and post- creative loafing, but the current d.c. city paper is the worst alt weekly i've ever read. all whiney fluff pieces.

Posted by jon c | October 7, 2008 11:50 AM

Maybe this will make room for real alternative papers in those areas.

Posted by elswinger | October 7, 2008 11:51 AM

DC has many weeklies, but in different molds from City paper--neighborhood fouced or population focused like the Blade and the bar-rag Metro. Perhaps, one of these could cscale up and take the City Paper's place. The Blade is already owned by another Atlanta operation--one associated with the laothsome Chris Crain. The best thing that could happen would be for local papers to have locla owners again.

Posted by Rich | October 7, 2008 11:57 AM


Agreed. And outside of CL coming in, I'm just not sure what happened. Resources are resources, but damn, it's not like the staff writers are pumping out short copy every issue. Go find a good story.

It didn't always used to be that way.

Posted by sw | October 7, 2008 12:32 PM

Yesterday, Arizona's third largest newspaper, the East Valley Tribune, which serves Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe, cut 40% of its staff, and announced it would only publish 4 days a week. Also, it will now be free in print.

Posted by nightlifejitters | October 7, 2008 12:42 PM

YIPE! Nooooo! Not the READER! Holy Shit! *breathe* Okay, the Reader has sucked since they took it over - NEXT!

Um, how are the Stranger's finances looking?

Posted by Cat in Chicago | October 7, 2008 12:53 PM

If anyone wants to bother clicking the link, the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Tim Redmond offers an explanation for why the Reader sold itself to Creative Loafing in the first place.

So, with that said, I prefer having a Reader that is a shadow of itself to the "Chicago New Times."

Posted by Tom X. PDX | October 7, 2008 2:29 PM

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