City Desk

Washington City Paper Sold to Tampa-Based Chain

The owners of Washington City Paper announced today that they have sold the paper to Creative Loafing, an Atlanta-based Tampa-based chain of four alternative weeklies. Also part of the deal is the Chicago Reader, with which the City Paper has shared partial ownership since 1982 and full ownership since 1988.

The sale was announced to staff in a meeting at the City Paper offices shortly after noon today. Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason spoke and answered questions about the sale and the paper's future.

The other four Creative Loafing properties, in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Tampa, Fla., and Sarasota, Fla., are all dubbed "Creative Loafing," but Eason said there are no plans to change the name of City Paper.

"There'a real strong sense of loss and a lot of optimism," said City Paper publisher Amy Austin, who will remain in her post under the new ownership, along with editor Erik Wemple.

Tom Yoder, representing the Chicago-based former owners of City Paper, vouched for Eason as a steward of the paper. "I've been convinced they're straight shooters. They're not full of themselves," he said at the meeting. "They have a plan for how papers like ours can prosper into the future." His group will retain ownership of the Adams Morgan building housing the City Paper offices.

Eason told staffers that he's not interested in meddling with editorial affairs and cited his Creative Loafing's "very similar values" to City Paper.

"I don't have an editorial agenda, except I like to mix it up," he said. "I like a fight."

Wemple later indicated to editorial staff that the editorial budget is likely to be cut in the coming months to bring City Paper's editorial expenses in line with other alternative weeklies, but he indicated that similar cuts would likely have come under the old ownership.

"I think that what we have here is a new ownership that is really looking out for the long-term health of our newspaper," Wemple said.

Eason, along with his sisters, has owned a majority stake in the company since 2000; his parents, Debby and Chick Eason, founded the Atlanta Creative Loafing in 1972, one year after the Chicago Reader's founding.

As part of the sale, Eason said, certain financial, technology, and production operations will be shifted to Creative Loafing offices in Atlanta and Tampa. Eason said some of the "displaced" City Paper employees may be able to relocate.

"There's plenty of work to be done. We just gotta figure it all out," he said.

UPDATE, 7/25, 1:47 P.M.: So I fucked up. Creative Loafing's corporate base is in Tampa, not Atlanta, though their flagship paper and shared production facilities are in the ATL. After a fuckup like that, let me pull a Kent Brockman here: I, for one, welcome our new Sun Belt overlords...

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  • Jonathan R. Rees

    Damn, we might get somewhere if they would fire Wemple. He's such an asshole.

  • sad day


    city paper is dead.

  • Sean

    Do you really think that the City Paper is dead if the new owners are keeping the current management team? Now, if Amy and Erik were to be replaced by some dude from Atlanta, then maybe...

  • Long live City Paper

    I hope they don't make a bunch of stupid changes and bad cuts. You guys do a terrific job. This stuff happens at so many papers and I'm pissed it's come to CP.

  • Jonathan York

    Yes, dear reader, and you are not the only one to be pissed.

  • Mike Licht

    City Paper taken over by Atlanta aliens.
    The Weekly World News ceases publication the same day.

  • Mark

    Good luck, team.

  • Unindicted Co-conspirator

    According to Crain's Chicago Business, even the printing may be moved to Fayetteville, N.C.

  • Ernest

    Courage, folks. Just stay calm, keep doing good work and you may end up with a substantial raise yet.

  • Not So Bad

    I beleive it will be a positive change. As an avid CL (The Loaf) reader, mixing the two could make for quite an interesting paper. Who knows? It could create more jobs/interest in the near future.

  • Elizabeth

    Happy to see the staff is staying ... but Creative Loafing is a wonderful paper .. in all of thier cities! I've been living in Atlanta for the past year and wouldnt survive without CL. I've also had a chance to meet some of the staff at events, and they honestly love and believe in what they do and the sense of community the paper brings. Dont worry, DC. (Oh, and I love DC, but Atlanta is also an amazing town ... great culture and small communities ... come visit, you'll see)

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  • Wonderful Schmonderful

    If the Loaf is a wonderful paper, it's not even half as wonderful as the City Paper, if AltWeekly Awards are any measure: According to, the flagship Atlanta Creative Loafing (founded 1972) has won 18 awards over the years; CP (founded 1981) has won 47.

    Adding the other the three Loaf papers into the total produces a whole eight more awards. Adding the Chicago Reader (founded 1971) results in another 27 awards. Final score of combined wonderfulness: home team 74, visitors 26.

    But even without the Reader's help--and handicapped by having to play nine years of catch-up--CP is quantifiably better than CL by more than 100 percent. (Start tallying prestigious food- and drama-criticism wins and the buyout looks even more ominous.) Of course, that's just what a bunch of seasoned journalism folks and awards-committee cranks think. Haters should now jump on the fact that AAN has also given Cherkis five awards and Wemple two.

  • Umm.. right

    Yes because awards are the most important thing in the world. Why then, does CL now own CP?

    Get over it. It's done

  • Yeah, Right

    Because when it comes to wonderfulness, awards may well suffice as a measure. Or maybe it's the tingly feeling one gets when reading something.

    On that scale, even Cherkis has appoximately 167 times the tingliness of Hollis Gillespie.

  • Jings

    "Elizabeth Says:
    Jul. 25, 2007, at 10:04 am

    Happy to see the staff is staying"

    Not, as announced, IT & Web, Production, and Finance.

  • Tim Keck, Publisher of The Stranger in Seattle

    The previous owners of City Paper are media pioneers who for decades put out some of the best papers in the country. They are also exceedingly honorable people. Nothing lasts forever but we all should be thankful they did it for so long.
    With Wemple and Austin still running the show, CP will continue being a great paper.

  • Mike

    And, as the manager of the production dept. - one of those that are being "displaced," let me also note that my staff took first place for Ad Design in 2006 (the first year the category was brought back).

  • CheGuava

    "Um, right ..." -- "Why does CL now own CP?"

    Are you saying that the history of newspapers is one where the higher quality journal always takes over and improves the less high quality journal? And that CL's ownership of CP is a sign of CL's inherent superiority? Or is your "get over it" just a sign of having nothing better to say to a bunch of folks who may be losing their jobs?

    If the former, you know nothing about newspapers. See what's happened to the Baltimore Sun since all of their content is now generated by the LA Times. Read up on the history of New Times Media. While some newspaper takeovers result in an improvement of quality, many others don't. They're about money, plain and simple, and it's a matter for some debate: Which is better, for good newspapers to close entirely due to ongoing market changes, or for good newspapers to be swallowed and revamped into something unrecognizable -- ensuring their technical survival, but as deformed, depersonalized, non-region-specific mouthpieces that exemplify the triumph of corporate over individual/local stories and tastes?

    I hope that doesn't happen to CP. But please, don't come in here with your "get over its" to a bunch of folks who have to figure out where the hell to go from here. And if you can't take a little needling about Atlanta, go dig through your pile of grits till you find your sense of humor.

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  • Cherkis

    The Reader just met the new boss. Check out their thoughts here:

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  • Wayne Garcia

    Mike -- hey, didn't mean to be so harsh and actually didn't even catch the reference in your column, was reacting to the amount of "love" I was seeing in the Reader's blog comments about the company being akin to being run by Junior Samples (for those over 45) or Cletus T. Judd (for those under). Thanks for the Brockman, tho. The big boss here was about to say "release the hounds" until he saw your mea culpa. [That's a joke, big boss. Honest.]

  • New Times Drone

    Just don't join . . . The Dark Side. Okay? You got a great paper -- CL might be okay,but I guarantee you - NT won't make it better.

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  • britt bergman

    then can i work there now?

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  • Will585

    They have already screwed up the City Paper. They have Trey writting about a play about a FUCKING SPELLING BEE for godsakes and they give only a tiny blurb to a small company like Rorschachs Kit Marlowe.

    What a waste of a good writer who use to write for a good paper until these soulless assholes bought it.

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