Media - Capitol Inquiry in the News

City Talk: The key players of Washington's influential and controversial weeklypaper look back on its legacy - Page 8

Erik Wemple, editor, 2002 to present: The whole notion of a chain kind of grinds against the ethos of an alt-weekly to begin with. At the time I was very concerned, but that had more to do with how good I thought my existing ownership was than any paranoia or concern I had over the coming ownership. What we didn't know then was just how much leverage Creative Loafing had taken on in buying us and the [Chicago] Reader. The bankruptcy proceedings, along with all the firings, have laid bare just how much they took on to buy us. If you look at those loan documents, it's pretty scary how much we have to pay in debt every year.

David Carr: [Erik Wemple's] job is very different from the one I had. He has had to be the transformation editor there. Plus, he's got ownership who clearly has no idea what they bought into, in terms of this legacy we are talking about. They don't seem very able stewards. I understand owning a weekly is a very difficult proposition, but we have seen throughout the newspaper landscape that the newspapers that take on the most debt over the course of time are having the hardest time, and I think that is true of Creative Loafing, as well.

Ben Eason, CEO of Creative Loafing: Anybody who is going to introduce changes to the City Paper is going to take heat. That's Number One. Number Two is, anybody that is operating a largely print business going through the transformation is going to take the same heat. I basically say it's "Who Moved My Cheese?" across the industry. People either want to empathize, or they think you are doing something wrong. The position we are in now is not ideal, but I am comfortable with what we have gotten ourselves into.

Erik Wemple: We're starting to see more progress on the online revenue, so it's getting us somewhere. As to whether it is getting us far enough, that remains to be seen. We are all Web-focused here. So if the Web is the answer in some far-off future, perhaps we'll be okay...I am not a futurist; I am an editor. next >>

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