Ben Eason, the CEO of alt-weekly chain Creative Loafing—which declared bankruptcy this week—has a vision for the future of his publications. And that vision is to be like Huffington Post Chicago. Huh? Here's what he wants, and here's our free quality advice to him, before he fucks up some of the nation's best alt-weeklies for good:
Creative Loafing, the conglomerate that owns the alt-weeklies in DC, Atlanta, Chicago, and several other cities, has filed for bankruptcy. The company has more than $40 million of debt, a number exacerbated by its purchases of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper last year. This may be just a foreshadowing of some painful days to come for alt-weeklies in general—we also hear the Village Voice may be on the verge of some layoffs. Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason tried to put a positive spin on the move as one that will allow the company to reorganize safely without hurting quality:
Yesterday's news that the alt-weeklies Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper had been sold to Creative Loafing, which owns a few alt-weeklies in the Southeast, left some people a little puzzled—especially employees of both papers, who didn't seem aware in the slightest that their publications were on the block at all. Over on the Reader's website, commenters are debating what it means that Creative Loafing bought the paper; the general sentiment seems to be cynicism and wariness of an outsider company buying their beloved Reader. So what does the sale portend for the state of alt-weeklies in this country? Is Creative Loafing emerging as the only viable national competitor to Village Voice Media?