Major Changes at Creative Loafing, Atlanta Daily World

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(APN) ATLANTA — The media landscape continues to shift as Creative Loafing Atlanta magazine continues to slice its news staff by letting people go, and as the Atlanta Daily World newspaper is sold to a national chain of historically Black newspapers.

CREATIVE LOAFING ATLANTA

Yesterday, March 14, 2012, Creative Loafing Atlanta let go four of its staff members: Senior Staff Writer Scott Henry, Food Critic and Managing Editor of Digital Content Besha Rodell, Arts Writer Curt Holman, and Special Projects Director Chante Lagon.

A few weeks ago, Atlanta Progressive News observed, when reviewing a copy of CL’s print edition, that Henry had already been demoted from News Editor to Senior Staff Writer.

It is not immediately clear why CL decided to demote Henry and eliminate the position of News Editor, but the move was not surprising following a December 28, 2011, editorial in which Editor-in-Chief Eric Celeste explained “I’ve always seen weeklies as more magazine-y than newspaper-y, and CL will be no different.”

Indeed, as has been the case for the last few years, CL only tends to carry one full-length news article in its print edition, and on some occasions, it carries a few reprinted blog posts.

Celeste joined CL as Editor-in-Chief on September 22, 2011, after the paper went for months without an Editor-in-Chief.  Mara Shalhoup had previously served in that role, until CL announced on February 07, 2011, that she was leaving for Chicago to serve as Editor at the Chicago Reader.  CL did not choose to promote Henry to Editor-in-Chief, bringing in Celeste instead.

Henry had been given free reign while at CL to pursue his political agenda, which involved positive stories about Mayor Kasim Reed and his administration; negative stories about anyone, such as Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who dared to question or criticize the mayor; and incessant attacks upon the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless.

Remaining Staff Writers include Thomas Wheatley, who joined CL in September 2007, and Gwynedd Stuart, who joined in April 2010, having previously worked at an alternative weekly in Jacksonville, Florida.  Photographer Joeff Davis also occasionally writes.

One consequence, therefore, of letting Henry go, is to reduce the number off years of institutional knowledge and reporting experience among the reporters at CL.

Meanwhile, Atalaya, the company which purchased Creative Loafing Atlanta and five other magazines in 2009 after Creative Loafing, Inc., went bankrupt, has already been selling off some of the papers and announced this week that it is close to selling the Chicago Reader and possibly the rest, including Creative Loafing Atlanta.

The six magazines at the time of the bankruptcy were the Chicago Reader, Creative Loafing Atlanta, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Creative Loafing Sarasota, Creative Loafing Tampa, and the Washington City Paper.

Creative Loafing Sarasota ceased publication in 2010.  The Herald-Tribune newspaper of Sarasota announced on December 15, 2010, that it had acquired licensing rights to the name and some of the content of Creative Loafing Sarasota.

Atalaya sold Creative Loafing Charlotte and Creative Loafing Tampa to SouthComm, Inc., on October 10, 2011.

That leaves currently three magazines owned by Atalaya: the Chicago Reader, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and the Washington City Paper.

Yesterday, Atalaya cut salaries at all three publications by five percent across the board.

According to numerous news reports, Atalaya is currently focusing on selling the remaining three magazines, especially the Chicago Reader.  Atalaya has been in talks with several potential buyers for the Reader, including the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

As far as potential buyers, group publisher Alison Draper told the Poynter blog “we’ve had increased activity in Atlanta as well as in DC.”

Atalaya had been CL’s primary creditor when it went bankrupt.  The reason Atalaya purchased the magazines, rather than liquidated them, is because it believed it could make more money from the magazines if it kept operating them.

Therefore, the main reason Creative Loafing Atlanta has remained in publication over the last few years has been so that Atalaya could make its money back.  Whether the company has been successful, or will have been successful by the time it sells the magazine to another company, is not immediately clear.

ATLANTA DAILY WORLD

On March 04, 2012, the Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta’s oldest historically Black newspaper, announced that it had been sold to Real Times Media (RTM).

The paper had been locally owned, by the Scott family, for 84 years, since 1928.  It was founded by William A. Scott, II.

RTM is based in Detroit, Michigan, and owns five other historically Black publications, including
the Chicago Defender, the Michigan Chronicle, the Michigan FrontPage, the New Pittsburgh Courier, and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tennessee.

M. Alexis Scott will continue on as Publisher.

“The Atlanta Daily World is excited to become a part of Real Times,” Scott said in a press release. “This is truly a new beginning for the paper.  The resources that are now available will enable us to diversify into a multi-media platform.”

The Daily World does have a website but it could be improved.

There are two other historically Black newspapers in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Inquirer and the Atlanta Voice, in addition to a magazine, the Atlanta Tribune.

(END/2012)

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