- Alternative newspaper
An alternative newspaper is a type of
newspaperthat eschews comprehensive coverage of general news in favor of opinionated reviews and columns, investigations into edgy topics and magazine-style feature stories highlighting local people and culture. Their news coverage is more local-centric and their target audiences younger than those of larger daily papers. Typically, alternative newspapers are published in tabloidformat and printed on newsprint. Other names for such publications include alternative weekly, alternative newsweekly, and alt weekly, as the vast majority circulate on a weekly schedule.
metropolitan areas of the United Statesand Canadaare home to at least one alternative paper. These papers are generally found in such urban areas, although a few publish in smaller cities, in rural areas or exurban areas.
Alternative papers usually operate under a different
business modelthan daily papers.Fact|date=June 2007 Most alternative papers, such as the Houston Press, the Los Angeles Free Press, the Village Voice, the New York Press, and the Long Island Press are free, earning revenue through the sale of advertisingspace. They also often include ads for adult entertainment, such as adult bookstores and strip clubs, which are prohibited in many mainstream daily newspapers.Fact|date=June 2007 They usually include comprehensive classified and personal adsections and event listings as well.Fact|date=June 2007
Many alternative papers feature an annual "best of" issue, profiling businesses that readers voted the best of their type in the area. Often these papers send out certificates that the businesses hang on their wall or window. This further cements the paper's ties to local businesses.
Alternative newspapers represent the more commercialized and mainstream evolution of the
underground pressassociated with the 1960s counterculture. Their focus remains on arts and entertainment and social and political reportage. Editorialpositions at alternative weeklies are predominantly left-leaning, though there is a small contingent of strongly conservative and/or libertarianalt-weeklies. Their styles vary sharply; some affect a satirical, ironic tone, while others embrace a more straightforward approach to reporting.
Columns commonly syndicated to alternative weeklies include "
The Straight Dope," Dan Savage's " Savage Love," Rob Breszny's " Free Will Astrology," and Ben Tausig's crossword puzzle " Ink Well." Quirky, non-mainstream comics, such as Matt Groening's " Life in Hell", Lynda Barry's " Ernie Pook's Comeek," Ruben Bolling's " Tom the Dancing Bug", and Ted Rall's political cartoons are also common.
Village Voice", based in New York City, is one of the first and best-known examples of the form.
Association of Alternative Newsweekliesis the alternative weeklies' trade association. The Alternative Weekly Network and the Ruxton Group are national advertising sales representatives for alternative weeklies.
Chains and mergers
Some alternative newpapers are independent. However, due in part to increasing
concentration of media ownership, many have been bought or launched by larger media conglomerates. The Tribune Company, a multi-billion dollar company that owns the Chicago Cubsand " Chicago Tribune" owns four New Englandalternative weeklies, including the " Hartford Advocate" and " New Haven Advocate."
Creative Loafing," originally only an Atlanta-based alternative weekly, grew into Creative Loafing, Inc. which owns papers in three other southern U.S. cities, as well as the " Chicago Reader" and " Washington City Paper". Similarly, Detroit's " Metro Times" branched-out to include papers in Ann Arbor, Michiganand Windsor, Ontario. Village Voice Mediaand New Times Mediamerged in 2006; before that, they were the two largest chains.
Village Voice Media, an outgrowth of New York City’s " Village Voice," included " LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Seattle Weekly, Minneapolis City Pages", and " Nashville Scene". New Times Mediaincluded at the time of the merger " Cleveland Scene, Dallas Observer, Westword, East Bay Express, New Times Broward-Palm Beach, Houston Press, The Pitch, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, SF Weekly", and " Riverfront Times."
In 2003, the two companies entered into a non-competition agreement which stated that the two would not publish in the same market. Because of this, New Times Media eliminated "
New Times LA," a competitor to Village Voice Media's "LA Weekly," and Village Voice Media ceased publishing " Cleveland Free Times," a competitor to New Times Media's "Cleveland Scene". The US Justice Departmentlaunched an antitrustinvestigation into the agreement. [http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f200700/200715.htm] The case was settled out of court with the two companies agreeing to make available the publishing assets and titles of their defunct papers to potential competitors. The " Cleveland Free Times" recommenced publication in 2003 under the publication group Kildysart LLC.
October 24, 2005, New Times Media announced a deal to acquire Village Voice Media, creating a chain of 17 free weekly newspapers around the country with a combined circulation of 1.8 million and controlling a quarter of the weekly circulation of alternative weekly newspapers in North America [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/25/business/media/25paper.html?ei=5089&en=8fd5ea390aa0b372&ex=1287892800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1139767243-Sidh4p/IvCtWEyyEXglkQg] . The deal was approved by the Justice Department and, on January 31, 2006, the companies merged into one, taking the name Village Voice Media. [http://aan.org/gyrobase/Aan/ViewArticle?oid=oid:156295]
Many editors and reporters of alternative papers and many longtime readers of "Village Voice" felt that the merger was against the spirit of alt weeklies and accused the Village Voice Media of
selling out. Others bemoan the effects such a large chain may have on the independent spirit of alt weeklies.
Nonetheless, a number of owner-operated, non-chain owned alternative papers survive, among them "
Metro Silicon Valley" in San Jose, California, " Salt Lake City Weekly", the " San Francisco Bay Guardian", the " San Diego Reader", " Isthmus" in Madison, Wisconsin, " The Second Supper" in La Crosse, Wisconsin, " Willamette Week" in Portland, Oregon, " Independent Weekly" in North Carolina's Triangle region, " YES! Weekly" in North Carolina's Triad region, the " Austin Chronicle" in Texas, " Artvoice" in Buffalo, New York, the "Aquarian Weekly" in North Jersey and " Knoxville Voice" in Knoxville, Tennessee.
List of alternative weekly newspapers
* [http://www.aan.org Association of Alternative Newsweeklies]
* [http://AltWeeklies.com AltWeeklies.com]
* [http://www.awn.org Alternative Weekly Network]
* [http://www.newpages.com/npguides/newswkly.htm NewPages Guide to Alternative Newsweeklies]
* [http://www.ruxton.com/index.php?page=alternative&nav=navigation_alt&active=1&PHPSESSID=00dc7fab4f8416f4b055ce5f0f1a66b9 Ruxton Media Group: Alternative Press]
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