Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

SF Weekly, Seattle Weekly Latest Victims Of Alt-Weekly Newspaper Industry

And nobody under 25 even knows what an alt-weekly is, so who cares!Staffers and free-lancers at two West Coast alt-weeklies are nervously awaiting whatever unpleasant news comes with the sale of those papers to local conglomerates. Like all of the once-mighty urban weekly papers, the SF Weekly and Seattle Weekly are struggling to survive in a time when it's not at all clear what these kind of publications are supposed to do when all of their one-time informational and advertising monopolies—music and movie listings, sex personals, roommate ads, alternative news, restaurant reviews, anti-Republican ranting—have moved online.

In both cities, the one-time New Times and then Village Voice Media/Voice Media Group-owned papers will go to local publishers. The San Francisco paper joins with other freebies including the Examiner and the Bay Guardian; the Seattle paper joins Sound Publishing, Washington state's "largest community news organization." Layoffs are inevitable, as the papers will merge much of their operations.

Just a decade ago, New Times was on a rampage, collecting alt-weeklies in major U.S. cities and beating the Village Voice chain to eventual death. Years of predatory advertising practices and Justice Department actions followed most everything the company did—including, incidentally, my own involvement as editor of a not-quite-real Los Angeles Examiner weekly that was intended to rise from the ashes of the New Times LA shutdown when the parent company acquired LA Weekly from Village Voice Media.

Moving the headquarters of "Village Voice Media" to Phoenix, Arizona, was just one of the company's more obnoxious moves. (In August, the New York paper was even moved out of the Village Voice building.) Now, Village Voice Media is nothing but the Internet porn ads company; the alt-weekly newspapers themselves, including the Voice, were recently divested to a holding company that is now selling off the remaining pieces of a once-powerful alternative media empire.

8 Comments / Post A Comment

jfruh (#713)

Wait, is the Bay Guardian still run by bearded maniac Bruce Brugmann? Didn't he live to hate the SF Weekly? How is he handling all this?

(Also, hands up, all people who lived in the Bay Area in the '90s and had a writer-crush on SF Weekly Dog Bites columnist Laurel Wellman)

pemulis (#903)

@jfruh Actually the Guardian was bought by same company that now owns SFW last year, with Bruggman selling and exiting, though Tim Redmond remains. Which is hilarious for anyone who knows history of the two companies.

Oh yeah, Village Voice is still in its old (pretty dim and depressing) building, though they are attempting to move still.

alorsenfants (#139)

What is With Seattle — says he who doesn't really care — with weather like they have, don't they need good things to read. Or is everyone there working for Microsoft?

How come we have two pretty good and healthy alternative papers in Charlottesville, pop. 150,000?

Well good luck out there. Come back and see us –

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

@alorsenfants Seattle has 2 "indy" papers – Village Voice Media owned Seattle Weekly (aka Seattle Weakly or Seattle Meekly) and the locally owned The Stranger.

We in Seattle do enjoy having good things to read, so it's totally cool that Seattle Weekly bit the dust.

K. Mae (#240,479)

@Pandemic Endemic Yeah, I don't think anyone is really going to mourn the loss of Seattle Weekly.

joshc (#442)

@K. Mae I mean "loss" is maybe an overstatement here? And, naming Starbucks the Best Record Store of the Year aside, the music section at the Weekly has been very solid over the last few years.

P.J. Morse (#232,627)

Sfist tried to find Laurel Wellman, and she may be in Canada these days …

P.J. Morse (#232,627)

Oh, and I was in Boston for a bit, and I was shocked that the formerly plump Boston Phoenix was now this sad-looking pamphletish thing. I guess long live the Web until the next thing comes along.

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