Media - Capitol Inquiry in the News

City Talk: The key players of Washington's influential and controversial weeklypaper look back on its legacy - Page 3

Jeff Stein: What's really interesting that people aren't paying attention to? Or what's outrageous? Let's do stories that newspapers should do but don't. If we had an editorial policy at that time, it was: We are against jerks, jerks with power.

In January 1982, the biweekly newspaper was renamed Washington City Paper, and in November, it began publishing weekly. With both their papers financially troubled, Russ Smith and Alan Hirsch sold 80 percent of Washington City Paper that December to the owners of the influential, and profitable, alternative weekly Chicago Reader.

Jeff Stein: It almost happened simultaneously that I realized the newspaper had really caught on and that it was the beginning of the end for me. The Chicago Reader management comes to town, and they take me to some place like the Palm, so I know my execution is coming. While they were yapping on, these guys at the table next to us said, "Did you see that story on such and such in the City Paper?" It was a story about the funeral of this mob guy. I just beamed. [The Chicago Reader management] are just hammering me, telling me how my editorial idea is all wrong. I am explaining to them that my idea is that Washington is a place where local and national is kind of fused, and that lots of people come here to work on federal issues and that you just can't feed them neighborhood or city council stories. So picture it: I am trying to make my case to them, and the well-heeled guys sitting next to us are going on about how fabulous this story was.

Mark Perry: I was interested in national security stuff, national politics and stuff like that. I had to shift the focus of the paper from what I would normally do to more local reporting, which was the model of the Baltimore City Paper. I really hesitated to do it because that was Baltimore. In Baltimore, they don't care about national politics! So, I thought, It is not going to work here. I was wrong. The more I started shifting to city politics and city hall, the more readers we got. next >>

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