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As 2017 comes to an end, the future of Washington City Paper remains uncertain. What we know now is essentially the same as what we knew when we were first informed that the paper was for sale in October: that our parent company, SouthComm, Inc. is prepared to move quickly and wants to close a deal by the end of the year.
On Monday, SouthComm informed the staff that if a sale doesn’t go through, all City Paper salaries will be cut by 40 percent, effective January 1, 2018. Those of us who work in local journalism do it out of love, not for money, and a drastic pay reduction like this would make living in D.C.—one of the most expensive cities in the nation—more difficult than it already is.
Friends and alums of City Paper were more blunt in their assessments of the situation.
“These are de facto layoffs—40% of a @wcp editorial salary is not livable in D.C.,” wrote former Loose Lips reporter Mike DeBonis on Twitter.
“[It] would be extremely difficult to live single in DC with under $30k a year, and downright heroic to support any family on that salary. Someone please help @wcp out!” opined Twitter user AJ. “How is that legal?” asked another Twitter user, Joe Flood.
“Worst part of passive-layoff strategy is they almost guarantee fading with a whimper. I pray it doesn’t come to this, but if any paper was ever suited to go in blaze of glory—18,000 word feature on rogue banjoist, scathing takedown of beloved ANC commissioner, etc—it was @wcp,” wrote former editor Michael Schaffer.
In the meantime, we prepared this issue of City Paper, and we’ll have another one for you next week. But if you know of any renegade musicians with five-stringed instruments, we’re interested in the story. Please email us at email@example.com.