After 13 years, The City Paper will cease operations with the publication of its Friday, Aug. 9, issue.
Chris Ferrell, CEO of SouthComm, made the announcement to employees this morning.
"In the last few days, we made the difficult decision to stop publishing The City Paper," he said. "After years of being subsidized by our investors and other Southcomm publications, we finally determined that there was not enough advertiser support for the free newsweekly model we were trying to sustain. The model proved very popular with readers, but in publishing the revenue doesn't necessarily follow the readership."
Ferrell said that the tough climate for advertising dollars made having multiple news properties extremely difficult, particularly a general interest publication like The City Paper. A portion of the staff will be laid off while others will be redeployed to other SouthComm publications.
"Going forward we will be merging some of our editorial resources into our profitable publications in Nashville in an effort to make them even stronger," Ferrell said. "You will see some of the names you have grown familiar with in The City Paper in the masthead of the Nashville Scene and Nashville Post. Both publications will expand their news coverage to fill the gap left by the closing of The City Paper. David Boclair will continue his coverage of Nashville sports, for example."
City Paper Editor Steve Cavendish expressed pride in the paper's performance.
"I cannot say enough about the job this staff has done in covering Nashville," he said. "We punched above our weight, told a lot of interesting stories, and held officials and institutions accountable. This city is a better place when you have more professional journalists covering it and I'm sorry we won't continue as a publication."
The City Paper launched as a free Monday-Friday publication in November 2000. Founded by Brian Brown with a local ownership group, the paper continued as a daily for most of the decade. After SouthComm — owner of the Scene, Post, nFocus and other publications — purchased the paper from the Thompson family in 2008, frequency was eventually shifted to a weekly basis.
"Many of us have regularly contributed to — and at times had to confront head on — the continuing evolution of the media industry, but that doesn't make days like today any easier," said Post Editor Geert De Lombaerde. "Looking ahead, the changes we're making to the Post and the Scene will make both publications more robust. We will work harder than ever to earn the trust of our consumers and advertisers."