Last week in this column I explained that City Paper is for sale, that its owner, SouthComm, Inc., hopes to close a deal by the end of 2017, and that staffers see this sale ending in one of three general ways. The paper could have no buyer and close, a buyer could come in and make staff cuts to match the paper’s income, or City Paper could find a winning business model, whether nonprofit, for-profit, or another structure.
Over the past week we’ve had time to develop a vision for what City Paper’s journalism would look like under the winning scenario.
City Paper should be D.C.’s hometown newspaper—an aggressive, delightful, comprehensive source of news for the District. The Washington Post is a force in national news, but gives less and less on local. We want to give more and more. We envision a City Paper that grows again.
Today we have four major beats. Our housing reporter pushes in-depth and investigative coverage of D.C.’s dramatic housing market and its great wealth disparities. Our relentless food writer goes well beyond restaurant openings to include the lives of workers, food injustices, and the local history of the industry. City Paper’s political writer gets scoops on guns, schools, and wasteful government spending alike. And a stable of freelance arts writers—some with more than 20 years of experience—are highly specialized in theater, visual arts, music, film, photography, and literature.
To that, we want to add constant, investigative coverage of education—daycare through university—to fill out the beat we’ve already cobbled together with various writers. In this election season, we’d like to double political coverage. We want to cover D.C’s profound income inequality problems in a thoughtful and well-rounded way. We’d add a health reporter to dig into policy and the people at the other end of it. We’d do more on cannabis. City Paper is also best positioned to expand arts coverage to equal the city’s booming scene and the lives of its artists. We want to scale up investigations in all coverage areas, and dig deeper into neighborhoods. We’ve already got a new multimedia project coming.
Pie in the sky? Maybe. This week we published an article on a nonprofit news model, and we’re reporting on others. We know that residents want the news, and we are looking to hear from you on what you’d want out of a bigger City Paper.