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Thread: Are alternative weekly newspapers hurting?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Are alternative weekly newspapers hurting?

    Cleveland has two alternative weekly newspapers; the Free Times, and the Scene. The Free Times is locally owned; the Scene is owned by Village Voice Media, and is similar to some other freesheets such as Pitch (Kansas City) and Westword (Denver).

    A few weeks ago, after the massive "Best of Cleveland" edition was published, the size of the Scene was dramatically reduced. The height of the tabloid format paper was shortened by an inch, and there seems to be far fewer pages; it feels more like a suburban shopper than an urban alternative newspaper.

    It's been said that thanks to Craigslist, alternative freesheets throughout the country are hurting ... bad. Have you noticed any changes in the alternative newspaper in your city?

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Cleveland has two alternative weekly newspapers; the Free Times, and the Scene. The Free Times is locally owned; the Scene is owned by Village Voice Media, and is similar to some other freesheets such as Pitch (Kansas City) and Westword (Denver).

    A few weeks ago, after the massive "Best of Cleveland" edition was published, the size of the Scene was dramatically reduced. The height of the tabloid format paper was shortened by an inch, and there seems to be far fewer pages; it feels more like a suburban shopper than an urban alternative newspaper.

    It's been said that thanks to Craigslist, alternative freesheets throughout the country are hurting ... bad. Have you noticed any changes in the alternative newspaper in your city?
    Now that you mention it I did notice the ArtVoice in Buffalo looked smaller. I didn't actually read it so I don't know if there is less content than before, but the size was smaller, although I'm not sure about the page count.

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    Cyburbian
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    The weekly paper I wrote for went out of print a few weeks ago.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Relying entirely on anecdotal evidence, I am of the opinion that alternative weekly newspapers historically have almost always teetered on the brink of insolvency. They are such ephemeral things, appearing and subsequently disappearing, not unlike old venereal complaints. Shoestring budgets, limited prospective advertising sponsors, niche markets constantly splintering, and unreliable bohemian editorial staff/artists/writers all serve to condemn this weeks’ cutting edge hipster missives into next weeks’ bird cage liner.

    And no, I can’t imagine the internet’s general tendency to make its gains at print media’s expense has helped matters either.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
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    I noticed this discussion via a Google Alert and thought I would try to answer your question.

    No, alternative newspapers are not hurting. We are not growing at double-digit rates like we were in the late 90's, but as a whole the industry is still doing very well despite some of the doom-and-gloom reports you may have heard about newspapers. In general, the big-market papers (top 10 or 15 DMAs) are not doing as well as the smaller-market papers for a number of reasons, but only a few papers in our industry are going backwards. In large part, those few papers are a victim of their own success: They had very large classified advertising sections and classifieds are transitioning to the Internet (e.g., Craigslist).

    The size of the paper has nothing to do with the financial outlook of the paper. Obviously, when you reduce paper sizer you reduce newsprint expense, but the main reason many tabloids are getting smaller is because the biggest printers (the only ones that can handle most newspaper accounts) have cut the size of their web press. Here's an article from 2000 in which we reported on the trend:

    http://aan.org/news/alternatives_not...ticle?oid=1094

    And Maister -- I'm not sure who is feeding you your anecdotes, but they're pure fiction. We have 130 member papers in our organization, and the vast majority are profitable and have dedicated, professional editorial staffs. Many have been publishing for over 30 years. Obviously, there are exceptions -- as there are in every healthy industry -- but by and large most alternative newspapers are doing very well, thank you.

    Thanks for listening.

    Richard Karpel
    Executive Director
    Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
    1250 Eye Street N.W., Suite 804
    Washington, D.C. 20005-5982
    202/289-8484
    http://aan.org
    http://AltWeeklies.com

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