Media - Capitol Inquiry in the News

City Talk: The key players of Washington's influential and controversial weeklypaper look back on its legacy - Page 1

By Stephen Lowman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 9, 2009; Washington Post Magazine

The crack cocaine epidemic. The gentrification debate. The history of big-slice pizza in Adams Morgan.

For nearly three decades, Washington City Paper has been a guide to the machinations of District government, a chronicler of the city's arts scene, a snapshot of life in Washington beyond the monuments. And, as a July issue that featured a photo of Marion Barry above a sexually explicit headline unprintable in a mainstream paper proved, a City Paper cover story can still stir controversy.

The list of people who made their name at Washington City Paper is a who's who of journalists -- among them Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens (he reviewed local bars), ABC News's Jake Tapper and Slate Editor David Plotz -- many of whom still aggressively cover the District and many others who now report for larger media organizations. While City Paper has continued to win awards and scoop the District's larger media outlets, in recent years it has also lost a large portion of its audience. Content that was once a mainstay of alternative newspapers, such as classified ads and event listings, has fled to the Web. City Paper, like other newspapers, has suffered from a decline in print advertising -- ads that still make up most of the paper's revenue. The numbers of pages, long-form pieces and employees have shrunk.

Facing its own business troubles, longtime owner Chicago Reader sold City Paper to Creative Loafing, the national chain of alt-weeklies, in July 2007. But Creative Loafing found itself in huge debt, incurred in part by its purchase of City Paper, and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2008. Creative Loafing's chief executive, Ben Eason, is facing an equity auction this month that will determine the paper's fate. next >>

© Copyright 2009 Capitol Inquiry, Inc.
1325 G Street, NW Fifth Floor Washington, DC 20005 Phone: 202 331 3388 Toll Free: 1800 530 0766