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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

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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.

 
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