And now, some very local news: Washington City Paper has been bought by SouthComm, Inc., the nation’s second-largest publisher of alternative weeklies. Terms of the deal, including the purchase price, were not disclosed.
The paper was put up for sale publicly in March, along with two others that were part of Creative Loafing Inc., by Atalaya Capital Management, a New York-based investment firm that acquired Creative Loafing in 2009. Nashville-based SouthComm is buying City Paper and Creative Loafing Atlanta in the deal announced today. The third paper, the Chicago Reader, was bought in May by the publishers of the Chicago Sun-Times.
SouthComm, formed in 2007, publishes 20 papers and magazines in Nashville, Louisville, Ky., Kansas City, Cincinnati, Charlotte, and Tampa, as well as now Atlanta and D.C. It’s been acquiring publications rapidly lately; last year, SouthComm bought the alt-weeklies in Charlotte and Tampa from Creative Loafing, and just bought CityBeat in Cincinnati in March.
Today’s deal marks the third owner for City Paper since July 2007, when Creative Loafing—then controlled by Ben Eason—bought us and the Reader. The following year, Creative Loafing went bankrupt, and in August 2009, Atalaya won control of the company in a bankruptcy proceeding.
“I am excited to welcome these two excellent papers to SouthComm,” said SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell in a press release. “Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing are two of the leading alt-weeklies in the country in two of the most influential cities in the world. I look forward to working with the staff in both markets to build on their legacy of strong news reporting and in-depth coverage of dining, music, arts, and culture.”
SouthComm’s announcement of the deal is below. Also, here’s Creative Loafing Atlanta‘s coverage of it.
SouthComm acquires Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing Atlanta
NASHVILLE, TENN. (July 3, 2012) – SouthComm, Inc., announced that it has acquired the assets of Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing Atlanta from Creative Loafing, Inc. Last fall, SouthComm acquired Creative Loafing papers in Tampa and Charlotte from the same company.
“I am excited to welcome these two excellent papers to SouthComm,” said SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell. “Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing are two of the leading alt-weeklies in the country in two of the most influential cities in the world. I look forward to working with the staff in both markets to build on their legacy of strong news reporting and in-depth coverage of dining, music, arts, and culture.”
“At SouthComm, we know that readers look to our publications for information about what’s going on in their city in both our print publications and on our digital platforms. Advertisers look to us to connect them to their clients and potential clients in print, online and in person. In cities across the Southeast and Midwest we are developing a model that fills the needs of both readers and advertisers by building around our weeklies a suite of niche publications and products. Atlanta and D.C. are larger cities than some of our other markets, but we think the same principles still apply. We believe relationships with readers and advertisers matter and we will try to uphold and build on the relationships these two papers have established over the years in Atlanta and D.C.,” explained Ferrell.
About SouthComm Inc.
SouthComm was formed in late 2007 to operate regional niche publications. The Nashville-based company now owns more than 20 titles targeting general news, alternative, business, society and female audiences in Nashville, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Louisville, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Tampa as well the regional Medical News chain of papers. The company is the nation’s second largest publisher of alternative weeklies. The company also owns Target Marketing and SouthComm Publishing, custom publishing companies serving chambers of commerce and other associations around the country. For more information, visit southcomm.com.
And here’s an email to staff from Ferrell:
Dear Creative Loafing and City Paper Staff,
I am excited to welcome you to SouthComm. I hope after the last several years of transition that SouthComm will be a stable home for these papers for years to come. I first approached Atalaya about SouthComm acquiring these papers a few days after Creative Loafing filed for bankruptcy in 2008. I’m pleased it has finally come to fruition and hope you will be too.
I believe people who have declared the “death of print” are painting with too broad of a brush. The decline of large market daily papers is not the same thing as the death of print. In fact, the decline of dailies in our markets creates both an increased opportunity and an increased responsibility for weekly papers like the ones we operate. The relationship Creative Loafing and City Paper have with their readers and advertisers spans decades. That is a relationship that I believe can transcend platforms. We strive to deliver information to our readers the way they want to consume it and to deliver our readers to our advertisers in ways they can effectively reach them. As a result what we do in the cities where we work is more than produce a weekly paper. We do that, but we also have robust online offerings, events we produce, and other niche publications we publish online and in print.
I have told many people that there are undoubtedly easier ways to make a living than running alt-weeklies, but the truth is that I love these papers and what they mean to the cities in which they publish. You have the opportunity to shape the public discourse in your cities for the better. Whether writing about public policy, music, dining, or the fine arts, you have the opportunity to participate in making your cities a better place to live. On the sales side, you help the local economy be more vibrant by helping local businesses reach people who would love their services. Those are important missions that when done well, make our cities more livable communities.
I look forward to meeting you and working with you in the days and weeks to come.