I am a loyal reader of Washington City Paper. Before it was purchased by Creative Loafing, it regularly featured sometimes oddball but often compelling cover stories, and coverage of local government that was often better than what I read in The Washington Post. It also attracted some of the best up-and-coming names in local journalism, who went on to be top writers at papers like The Washington Post. City Paper editor Eric Wemple has struggled valiantly over the last few months to keep up the quality of the product even as he slashed staff, but last week he announced in the paper that it would no longer publish weekly cover stories. I've often been befuddled by City Paper's choice of cover stories, but appreciated the paper's commitment to good feature writing and in-depth investigation. Now that's gone. I fear the local political and neighborhood coverage will be next. And this is what worries me most: With The Washington Times having given up on local coverage to be basically a Capitol Hill political paper, and The Washington Post tightening its belt, what happens when the City Paper is too emasculated to keep The Post honest? With all of the dark corners that exist in Washington and elsewhere, who's going to shine the light? If City Paper is crippled or worse, the loss to the city will be substantial. I've worked in media, and I understand newspapers are businesses. But the best papers provide an essential public service, and I wonder if the owners at Creative Loafing didn't drink enough of John Sugg's Kool-Aid -- the old-school notion that profit is the reward for good content and smart business practices. There are a some businesses, even in this rough economic and media environment, that are weatheruing the storm with that formula. I hope Creative Loafing tries harder to follow that roue rather than what seems to be the self-defeating, bass-ackwards norm: profit before content.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation