New rumblings in the alternative press

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By Tim Redmond

So many interesting and odd things going on in the world of alternative media. Yesterday’s news: Creative Loafing, a small chain with four papers in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Charlotte and Sarasota, just bought one of the granddaddies of the alternative weekly world, the Chicago Reader, along with the Reader’s Washington City Paper.

The fascinating element: Village Voice Media, the chain formerly known as New Times, has had something of a standing bid in for the Reader for years now, and that’s never gone anywhere. I know the folks in Phoenix are going a bit crazy today; that would have been a prime addition to the 17-member VVM empire, and it got away.

I don’t know why yet, but a couple of ideas occur to me – and one is that, with the losses mounting in San Francisco and Cleveland, and the prospect of big damages in the Guardian’s lawsuit, VVM simply didn’t have or couldn’t come up with the cash. And it would have been a bunch of cash, probably at least $25 million.

It’s also possible that the Reader owners just didn’t want to sell to the jerks at VVM.

Speaking of those jerks, a few interesting tidbits out of San Francisco: The web editor at the SF Weekly (part of the VVM chain) quit last week in a huff, in part, he wrote, because he didn’t like it when the bosses in Phoenix kept telling him to write nasty stuff about the Guardian.

And this is always interesting, from the anonymous crew at altweekly death watch.