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Sunday Paper Ceases News Coverage, Lets Ramage Go

(APN) ATLANTA -- The Sunday Paper magazine, an alternative newsweekly founded in 2004, will cease publishing news, and is switching to a focus on coupons and arts and entertainment, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

While the paper overall seemed to have a moderate to conservative editorial slant, especially in its opinion content, in recent years editor Stephanie Ramage had developed a column looking at local city issues, including public safety, city development, elections, and City Hall.

Ramage was let go as part of the reorganization on Thursday, December 30, 2010.

"Patrick Best, our publisher, informed me that The Sunday Paper would no longer be doing news.  Patrick was as nice as he could be; the decision, he explained, was merely the product of today's business environment," Ramage wrote in an email to readers sent early this morning, obtained by APN.

Today, she told APN she is considering several job offers as well as starting her own website.  She is currently working on stephanieramage.com.

"I will definitely be back reporting on City Hall soon," Ramage said.

When asked to characterize her contribution to the local media ecosystem, "I think that I probably gave a very aggressive voice to critical views of the Reed Administration."  This despite having endorsed Reed in the 2009 Mayoral Election.

"It'd be accurate to say I'm pro-cop," she also agreed.  In her coverage of the Atlanta Eagle raid, for example, she considered whether lower ranking officers were being held out to dry by the higher-ups.  In another article, she covered a candlelight vigil--with photographs--held by corrections officers related to their own compensation issues.

The Sunday Paper positioned itself as a conservative alternative to Creative Loafing magazine, Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper's Political Insider blog wrote.

"I understand why Jim Galloway would think that.  I have to say, I think if you look at my work, me specifically, not Sunday Paper as an entity, it's obvious I have a very moderate political position," Ramage said.

"My reporting on the Eagle raid was friendly to the gay community.  It was absent some of the prejudices people could associate with more Conservative viewpoints.  I don't think you could actually say I was conservative down the line.  If anything, I've been socially liberal and fiscally conservative," Ramage said.

Previously, Ramage worked for Creative Loafing from 1995 to 2001.

Sunday Paper Publishing was founded as a Georgia corporation and then transitioned to an LLC.  The LLC was founded May 19, 2004.  Greg Michell, at attorney, is the registered agent.

In its earlier years, the Sunday Paper also ran edgy, sometimes offensive cover stories, including "Cynthia McKinney: Friend or Freak?" and "Is Georgia Stupid?," a story about Georgia's educational system.

While it did not have a full news staff or cover Atlanta news in breadth and depth, Sunday Paper did make a unique, independent contribution to the Atlanta media ecosystem.

A visit to Sundaypaper.com, reveals that the entire website has been taken down, including the full web archives.

"SundayPaper.com will re-launch.  SP will be back on January 7, 2011 as the complete source for coupons, deals, fun and culture in Atlanta," the website now says.

The Sunday Paper seems to have come to the conclusion that it can run a publication without news content; that enough people will pick up the publication to look at things other than news to justify selling advertising.

To be sure, Atlanta's other--and now, only--alternative newsweekly, Creative Loafing Atlanta, has largely scaled down its print news coverage to about one full length news article per week, and a few blog reprints.  

And so, the print editions of alternative newsweeklies in Atlanta are not so much the place to get substantive, informative news anymore.

Creative Loafing offers more news through blog posts on its Fresh Loaf blog, which is online.

APN has been covering the changing media landscape in Atlanta since APN was first published in 2005.

Since then, APN has written about the demise of The Story newspaper; the bankruptcy and reemergence of Creative Loafing; the bankruptcy of Southern Voice and its reemergence; the brief stints of Atlanta Free Press and the Georgia Online News Service; the founding of Project Q Atlanta online and Georgia Voice magazine; the struggles of People TV public access; and the founding of the Atlanta Unfiltered website.

The loss of Sunday Paper as an outlet for local news is another significant development.

"People need to start thinking about the link between free press and a free country.  There is no such thing as democracy without press.  Who is going to keep an eye on your government?" Ramage asked.

Ramage reflected on her time at the Sunday Paper in an article on the now-empty website, according to a copy obtained through Google's cache.

"I have loved every minute, every insult, every late night, slaving away before deadline, every angry phone call, every heartache and heartbreak. I have loved my readers fiercely.  I want you to know that I am well aware that I was not always perfect, but I always tried my best to figure out what was right and what was true and give it to you as straight as I could," she wrote.

Ramage thanked her readers in the email this morning.

"I am absolutely staggered by the help you all have given me... When I asked you to send me any articles of mine that you could remember so I could save my archive, you did it; thanks to you, I now have literally hundreds of the stories and columns I have written over the years, Some of you had actually saved some from when I was at Creative Loafing (either you have no lives, or you're frustrated librarians, whatever the case, I cannot thank you enough)," Ramage wrote.

"People I don't even know took time out of their lives to save my work... And, I must tell you, you have done more for me than I felt I was capable of doing for myself," she wrote.

"A little while ago, as I plowed into my email, I found one from one of you explaining that you'd purchased www.stephanieramage.com on my behalf, not just for a free monthly trial, but for an entire year. You bought my name domain and gave it to me, with a cache of my old articles and enough paid up to keep me on the web until December 2011, I'm weeping like a bride. THANK YOU!"

(END / 2011)


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