SouthComm signs letter of intent to purchase 'The City Paper'

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 8:25pm

Local publishing company SouthComm Communications announced today it has signed a letter of intent to purchase The City Paper and its companion Web site

Company executives said the move will mean an increased focus on delivering news on the Web site and a reduction in the number of days the paper is published each week.

SouthComm is a relatively new start-up led by former Nashville Scene publisher Chris Ferrell, who serves as the company’s chief executive officer. SouthComm is the parent company of online news site and music business publication Music Row.

Albie Del Favero, publisher of The City Paper, announced the planned sale today to the paper’s staff and said the SouthComm purchase from the Thompson family allows the company to invest further in digital content and delivery. Terms were not disclosed, but the Thompson family will retain a significant minority interest in the new company.

“At the conclusion of our recent strategic planning process, we made the decision that it was time for The City Paper to expand its scope from solely publishing a newspaper to becoming a company that publishes a local paper and delivers daily news and information online. The sale to SouthComm accelerates our intentions,” Del Favero said.

Del Favero announced The City Paper, Nashville’s free, five-day-a-week daily newspaper, will focus on building news-gathering capabilities online, including additional video features, and will only publish the print version of the newspaper on Mondays and Fridays, beginning April 28.

Ferrell said the purchase of The City Paper fits the company’s long-term business strategy. He added that Del Favero would stay on as publisher of The City Paper and veteran journalist Clint Brewer will continue as executive editor.

“SouthComm Communications is built on the premise that Americans increasingly want their daily news delivered online and that the future of print is in high quality, intelligent, niche products that come out on a less-frequent basis, but provide more in-depth news and information for people to read,” Ferrell said.

The announcement of SouthComm’s purchase of The City Paper comes days after the company announced the purchase of the monthly BusinessTN and intentions to start a new women’s magazine, Her Nashville.

“SouthComm is acquiring and creating a suite of niche publications that we hope will be interesting and informative to Nashville-area readers. With our announcements this week, we are beginning to realize the vision of the next-generation publishing company,” Ferrell said.

Del Favero added, “Advertisers are following readers to online products and are becoming more unwilling to subsidize regularly rising paper and fuel costs. Our business must make the transition to digital content and delivery to thrive in the future.”

—Staff Reports

Filed under: City Business
By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That's it. A tangible paper on Mondays & Fridays. I wonder whether people will know to pick it up then. I also wonder whether the rest of the staff will be kept.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The site is a pay-to-read site, I suspect it would not be long before this ones follows suite. It would be about the only way to make money. I can’t imagine there is enough pay per click hits to keep it free.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I was hopeing that they would go head to head with the rag/aka Tennessean.

By: CFerrell on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The plan is to keep this site free and publishing local news every weekday.

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00

idgaf for once we agree on something. I love the city paper, and I'm upset this is happening.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It will be interesting then to see if the Nashville market is big enough to support a web based news outlet. I am sure you have done your research, but we can only assume that the audience is larger than the dozen or so that post here on a regular basis.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I know that some people hold that a free paper can’t be that good, but I thought the City Paper did a good job of covering the highlights, comparable to this internet/get it quick world. The Scene has some interesting writing, but its main purpose for me is info about what is happening around town with shows or restaurants. I think the City Paper should have made a go at it like years ago, with teens hawking papers on the street corners. Much more personal than the rack/boxes. Oh well, since I didn’t buy it, I’ll just wait to see like the rest of us how it plays out.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thanks, Chris. I'll keep reading here, I'm sure, and, when I have the time, commenting.

By: WrdBrn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This is a disaster. 4 days a week for the bad guys to pull their shenanigans and no real print out to the masses. I know small businesses that wrap their lunch hour around the cross word, editorials, etc. It may sound unfathomable, a very large percentage of the public that NEEDS the city paper and her REAL WRITERS ... do not have access to the Internet; and some that do have no clue how to navigate... Sounds to me like a maneuver to seriously slow down the information stream from some who have taken a beating from their antics being brought to light!

By: HokeyPokey on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I NEVER read the print edition, and if the pdf version opens by accident I shut it immediately.For someone who watches the fate and fortune of traditional newspapers very closely, this is going to be an interesting test.

By: VanDSIRROM on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I live in North Carolina.Brett Hait is the reason I read the City Paper. He beats the utennessean everyday. That is except Sat. & Sun.Will we ever get an internet paper 7 days a week?

By: airvols on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This is a shinning light in the city and I hope Chris and the new organization will keep the spirit of this paper alive. It's free and I check it online everyday. I know profit is king, but this is a great asset to the city. Thanks for all you do.

By: global_citizen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I read the City Paper both online and the printed edition. The printed edition is something I can pick up and read over lunch and has more than just the headline stories. I'm sorry, but I haven't been able to get accustomed to reading an online facsimile of a printed newspaper page enough to read the "e-paper". This news disappoints me. Since I've started reading the City Paper I've often praised it for being more local and attuned to the news stories that interest the average Nashville citizen, unlike the Tennessean. This comes just as the City Paper has firmly taken root as a legitimate daily newspaper. I don't know that this is the right move.

By: dgallent on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Hope they trash "Olive Software" and Brewer need to publish a rag everyday. Great news and best of don't forget to trash "Olive" the very worst newspaper software I have ever seen (IMHO). The older version was much better....

By: capt4chris on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I prefer to read the printed paper, but I commute down to Franklin so I rarely get that pleasure. The online paper works fine even though I can't take it with me to lunch.But if it's going to be more of an online effort, then I hope we'll see more mid-day breaking news articles.

By: lifesafe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

We need an independent non compromising paper with the backbone to speak the truth.Continue to educate us about the reality that lives here in Nashville are lost every day due to non-working smoke alarms!We've been sold a bunch of lies by the greedy manufacturers who don't want the truth told.I'm glad City paper feels "our" pain and loss.

By: lifesafe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Shout out to my Classified Rep.Dorothy C. for always being upfront,honest,creative and never settling for second best when it comes to getting the big bang for the bucks!OSmith-LifeSafe Advisors

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'm just glad that every story gets a normal link now instead of the e-paper junk.

By: capt4chris on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I think it's starting to make sense now.I noticed a few new writers lately popping up in the Real Estate and Business, etc areas such as Richard Lawson (only recently on NCP, right?). It seemed odd to me.Then today I stumbled on an article on, written April '07, by Richard Lawson.So... SouthComm owns Nashville Post, then writers from there quietly start writing for the City Paper, then NCP announces it's being bought out by SouthComm. I guess they've already been shuffling staff around.Am I missing something?