March 5th, 2012 By Danny Cross | News | Posted In: Media

CityBeat Acquired by SouthComm

Nashville-based publishing company owns altweeklies in six mid-sized markets


Sometimes you come to work, fire up the ol’ coffee maker and get straight to all the funny websites you like to read before you get started. Other times the boss calls a staff meeting and informs you that you work for a different company now and that new firewalls are going to block your fantasy baseball league during work hours.

Today CityBeat employees were notified that effective immediately we are all part of SouthComm Inc., a Nashville-based publishing company that owns and operates alternative weeklies in six mid-sized Midwestern and Southern markets.

The change is a good thing for a number of reasons. Many of us at CityBeat are already fans of the nearest SouthComm paper — LEO Weekly in Louisville. It is obvious that SouthComm values the creative presentation of local arts, music and culture and the thoughtful news coverage readers have come to expect from CityBeat. SouthComm’s other award-winning publications include Nashville Scene, The Pitch in Kansas City and Creative Loafing papers in Charlotte and Tampa.

We’re actually quite proud that our editorial history and relevance to the community were valued by SouthComm.

The company offers access to expanded resources currently not at our disposal, and the SouthComm owners go way back with CityBeat’s founding editor and publisher, making this situation more like “Join our fun team and successful business model,” than “Give us the keys and let us control you.”

While CityBeat will no longer be locally owned, the autonomy SouthComm has offered its other publications and its continued interest in expanding its portfolio is exciting as we continue to build upon our recent staff changes and the success of other entities we operate, including the MidPoint Music Festival and A-Line Magazine.

SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell noted in the official press release CityBeat’s body of work and the potential of the Cincinnati market:

CityBeat has a long history of covering the local government, music, arts, and culture scene in Cincinnati,” Ferrell said. “We look forward to having them as part of the SouthComm family of publications. We are excited to expand into Cincinnati, which is a very good city for us to build out our model of having multiple niche publications in each market.”

The immediate change will be noticed very little by our general audience, as Dan Bockrath will continue to serve as CityBeat Publisher and we will continue to be locally operated. As part of the acquisition, John Fox, one of the founding owners, will serve as a consultant with SouthComm. Fox was CityBeat's Editor and Co-Publisher from its inception in June 1994 until the end of 2010, when he became Director of CityBeat Events. He leaves day-to-day responsibilities at CityBeat and will be announcing an exciting new venture soon.

Also as part of the acquisition, founding owner Thomas R. Schiff departs as CEO of Lightborne Publishing, the official owner of CityBeat, A-Line Magazine, MidPoint and all of our other entities. We would be extremely remiss in failing to recognize Tom’s unwavering support of CityBeat over the past 18 years — without it the CityBeat enterprise wouldn’t be what it is today.

It’s no secret that Cincinnati presents a challenging media landscape, with the country's largest daily newspaper chain (Gannett, owner of The Cincinnati Enquirer) and largest radio station chain (Clear Channel, owner of multiple AM and FM stations) poking their publicly traded practices into every corner of our town. But their existence presents a rare opportunity to stand out by continuing to offer readers the thoughtful and personal experience they have come to appreciate from CityBeat. If the quality of SouthComm’s other publications is any indication, this acquisition is part of a new and exciting future for us.

03.07.2012 at 07:27 Reply

I can't see how this is a win-win for anyone but the owners of CityBeat.  We've already seen what acquisitions do to other weekly papers, like Cin Weekly, which got rolled into the mega-weekly Metromix.  

In fact, CityBeat writers have often editorialized about how awful the Metromix debacle was.  Now you're saying getting bought by a big company yourself is somehow awesome?  Nice spin.  

The reality is that Cincinnati just lost the last of the truly independent local rags.  This city has nothing of its own now.  Such a shame.


03.08.2012 at 02:38 Reply

i understand your point about cin weekly.the new owners are not gannett,that is a good thing.time will tell if citybeat turns into a gannett like waste product.if it does then i will stop reading it like i did all of gannett owned trash.


03.09.2012 at 05:06 Reply

SouthComm is making great effort to retan the local flare and personality of the papers they aquire. They have done so in Louisville with the LEO. If anything, they will give CityBeat greater resources and backing to grow. Sure it is always better to be locally owned, but in this case I think CityBeat made the right choice in order to remain strong. I'm looking forward to seeing how they improve thier products!

As far as the other comments comparing this to the Cin Weekly / Metro Mix mess. Completely different situation. It was not a buy out. Gannet owned Cin Weekly and co-owns Metro Mix (with Tribune Co.). They just folded Cin Weekly into the Metro Mix model in order to save money.


03.15.2012 at 10:36 Reply

As a FORMER Enquirer employee I can second all of the disparaging comments related to Gannett (and then some).  I and several of my colleagues left the paper for many of those reasons.  I love CityBeat and honestly hope this acquisition is a good thing for them.  Time will tell, but if I know the folks at CB, they'll fight with all they have to keep thier own, strong, local voice.


04.08.2012 at 12:33 Reply

"Shitty Beat" is unreadable, a mess of hysterical liberal swill.  Why does its Arts coverage so often wig out into Bush Derangement Syndrome?  "boring, Sidney, borring..."


05.14.2012 at 06:25

Well, it seems CityBeat laid off one of their best writers, Kevin Osborne.  Unbelievable.  I'm pretty sure this has everything to do with the SouthComm transition.

I will greatly miss Kevin's insightful writing.  His editorial arguments were backed up by a wealth of well-researched facts.  Not only did Kevin convince the reader he's right --he held their hand through the process, weeding through the muck of political hyperbole, rhetoric and doublespeak, boiling it all down to reveal the truth underneath.

So sorry this happened.  CityBeat is worse for it.