AAN News

After Inaugural Issue, Cleveland's Daily Looks at the New Scenenew

Publisher Matt Fabyan tells the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that his fears of newsroom tension between employees of former competitors Cleveland Free Times and Scene were unfounded. "After the first day, people have jelled really well," he says. The Plain-Dealer runs down some facts about the new paper, which debuted last week after the two papers were merged by new owners Times-Shamrock. The first issue came in at 100 pages, which was up from 72 in Free Times' last issue and 60 in Scene's last one. The new paper's circulation is 60,000, which is 10,000 more than pre-merger circulation totals for each paper, but down from a high of 100,000 a few years ago. Fabyan also tells the P-D that total staff loss was about 10 people. Each paper had about 25 staff members pre-merger, and the new paper comes in around 40, half from the old Free Times and half from the old Scene.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer  |  07-28-2008  12:53 pm  |  Industry News

Cleveland Scene Editor: The War is Over, and Neither Side Won or Lostnew

"A month ago we were enemies, hunkered down in bunkers and trying to will each other into starvation or surrender; today, we share the same fax machine and make small talk in the elevators," Frank Lewis says of the now-merged Cleveland Free Times and Scene. "And between deadlines and the seemingly endless details inherent in merging two operations -- packing and unpacking, integrating computer systems, finding the goddamn coffee -- there's just been no time to nurse grudges." He adds: "What matters most now is figuring out what to do with this rare opportunity -- in the Rust Belt, at least -- to leave behind the hand-to-mouth, week-to-week existence, the paranoia and bitterness, and figure out how to make the most of a more stable future."
Cleveland Scene  |  07-24-2008  11:41 am  |  Industry News

Cleveland Free Times, RIPnew

After 16 years, Cleveland's oldest AAN member published its last issue today. Started by labor lawyer Richard Siegel in 1992, the alt-weekly survived even after its founder died a year later, always striving to remain faithful to his mission of providing "tough-minded, responsible and gutsy coverage of what's really going on in" Cleveland. Although Free Times survived a temporary shutdown in 2002-03, this time it appears to be closing for good. In its final issue, the paper publishes a series of tributes, remembrances, and critiques.
Cleveland Free Times  |  07-16-2008  7:43 pm  |  Industry News

More on the Free Times/Scene Mergernew

"The idea, of course, is that with no competition to siphon off advertisers or keep ad prices rock-bottom, one alt-weekly might accomplish what the Free Times and Scene couldn't: make enough money to survive," Scene managing editor Joe Tone says of the recently announced merger. "And it's hard to bemoan the consolidation. Had they not become one, the two papers would have eventually become none." However, Tone notes that, for now, Cleveland "will lose some journalists." In addition to former editor Pete Kotz, who has already left for Nashville, Tone says staff writer Lisa Rab and food critic Elaine Cicora have departed. Frank Lewis, who last week was named the new paper's editor, reports on the Free Times blog that the other managers have been named. Sean Misutka and Joe Strailey have been plucked from the Scene to be ad sales manager and classified sales manager, respectively. And three additional Free Times managers have found homes at the new paper: Steve Antol is the circulation manager; Tim Divis is the business manager, and Steve Miluch is the production manager.
Scene | Cleveland Free Times  |  07-07-2008  11:39 am  |  Industry News

Cleveland Free Times Editor Will Take Helm at the New Scene

AAN News has learned that Frank Lewis has been named the editor of the Scene, which is being merged with the Free Times by new owners Times-Shamrock on July 23. The announcement was made to the two staffs yesterday. Former Scene editor Pete Kotz began his tenure as editor of the Nashville Scene this week. Lewis joined the Free Times in 2005 after serving as the Scene's managing editor. Before that, he spent close to seven years at the Philadelphia City Paper.
AAN News  |  07-03-2008  11:57 am  |  Industry News

Tim Redmond: Cleveland Merger Marks a 'Curious New Chapter'new

The San Francisco Bay Guardian executive editor offers his take on the deal announced last week that will merge the Cleveland Free Times and Cleveland Scene under new owners Times Shamrock. He wonders why "VVM couldn't create a monopoly, [but] another newspaper outfit apparently can." He's referring to when the Justice Department nixed a similar 2002 deal between New Times and Village Voice Media (then two separate companies) that shuttered the Free Times. Justice forced the sale of Free Times to a group of investors, and the paper reopened in May 2003. "I'll leave it to you to speculate on why we couldn't do this deal, but Times Shamrock could," VVM executive editor Andy Van De Voorde says. Redmond says the Justice Department has yet to respond to his request for comment.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  06-27-2008  8:33 am  |  Industry News

Times-Shamrock Buys Cleveland Free Times, Cleveland Scene

The other shoe has dropped. Times-Shamrock just announced that it is buying Cleveland Free Times as well as the Cleveland Scene, and will merge the two publications into a single paper on July 23. The new paper will be called the Scene, and current Free Times publisher Matt Fabyan will run it. "This is a great addition to our existing group of alternative newsweeklies," says Don Farley, group publisher of Times-Shamrock's stable of alt-weeklies, which now numbers five. "We look forward to serving the greater Cleveland community for many, many years." UPDATE: Fabyan tells the Plain-Dealer that the deal had "been in the works for a while," and Crain's Cleveland Business reports that staffers at each paper are being asked to reapply to the new paper. (FULL STORY)
Times Shamrock Alternative Newsweekly Group Press Release  |  06-20-2008  10:27 am  |  Press Releases

U.S. Justice Dept. Looking into Viability of Cleveland Free Timesnew

Lawyers and economists from the U.S. Justice Department are investigating if the Cleveland Free Times can "be a viable business in the current media climate" in the city, according to the Plain Dealer. The Free Times was closed in 2002 when its owner, Village Voice Media, agreed to shutter it, giving Cleveland's other alt-weekly, the New Times-owned Scene, a monopoly. (The two parent companies merged in 2005.) The Justice Dept. investigated that deal and forced the sale of Free Times to a group of investors. Former Free Times editor David Eden tells the Plain Dealer he was recently questioned by lawyers from Justice about whether or not he thought the paper could be turned around. He says he told them that Cleveland needs the paper's independent voice and he hopes it is sold to a local group rather than being bought out by the competition and closed. "It feels like deja vu all over again," he says.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer  |  01-28-2008  1:20 pm  |  Industry News

Free Times Reporter Publishes Book on Child Murder Casenew

James Renner has released a book-length investigation into the unsolved 1989 abduction and murder of 11-year-old Amy Mihaljevic, reports the Record-Courier. "Amy: My Search for Her Killer," is published by Gray & Company, and grew out of a 5,000-word feature originally written for the Free Times. The book has already led to numerous tips for local law enforcement, says Renner. "My hope is that someone comes forward to say that they know who killed Amy," he says.
Record-Courier  |  01-04-2007  4:30 pm  |  Industry News

Ohio Weeklies Team up on State Candidates

Three AAN members in the Buckeye State recently collaborated on election coverage so each could benefit from the others' insight into their "hometown" candidates. In profiles that were published in successive months in all three papers, Cincinnati CityBeat wrote about Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (pictured); Cleveland Free Times examined Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown; and The Athens NEWS took a close look at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland. CityBeat editor John Fox talks about how and why he and his fellow editors pooled their resources. (FULL STORY)
10-25-2006  1:31 pm  |  Industry News

Cleveland Free Times Writer Defends Story on Soldiernew

Joshua Greene faced a barrage of criticism after his story about an unidentified soldier being shipped off to Iraq appeared. Soldiers and others insinuated "that I or the soldier or both made the whole story up," Greene wrote in a follow-up column. "Nobody, they say, ever jumped out of a plane 4,426 times. Okay. Maybe it was a helicopter." In Greene's favor, a chaplain called to say the story had resonance, even if the number of jumps was incorrect. "And maybe I'm a flawed journalist, 'cause as the man [the soldier identified only as "Babe"] packed up his house, I didn't call him a liar enough as I sat complicit in sending him to war," Greene muses. The Free Times published a number of letters from readers questioning the story.
Cleveland Free Times  |  01-31-2005  10:50 am  |  Industry News

New Times and VVM Face New Lawsuit over L.A.-Cleveland Dealnew

Twelve former employees of the Cleveland Free Times have filed a lawsuit in Ohio against New Times and Village Voice Media, reports the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The suit is the latest fallout from an October 2002 deal between the two companies that shuttered Free Times and New Times Los Angeles. The deal led to a Justice Department antitrust investigation that culminated in a consent decree in which neither company admitted guilt. The suit alleges that the workers who lost their jobs when the two papers closed were terminated illegally; the lawyer who filed the suit is seeking class-action certification.
San Francisco Bay Guardian  |  09-16-2004  3:55 pm  |  Industry News

Columnist Says Editor's Move to Tabloid TV Is Perfect Mergernew

Outgoing Cleveland Free Times editor-in-chief David Eden used to work for Barney, the purple dinosaur, Connie Schultz reports in The Plain Dealer. Schultz takes issue with reporting in the alt-weekly's "The Nose," which Eden described to her as "a snarky gossip column," and with news coverage at Channel 19, where Eden will soon become managing editor. But, she writes, "a guy who used to cavort with Barney can't be all bad."
The Plain Dealer  |  05-28-2004  8:56 am  |  Industry News

Cleveland Free Times Editor-in-Chief Moves to TVnew

Cleveland Free Times editor-in-chief David Eden is leaving the alt-weekly to become the new managing editor of that city's sister television stations, WOIO Channel 19 and WUAB Channel 43, The Plain Dealer reports. Free Times Publisher Matt Fabyan is seeking a replacement.
The Plain Dealer  |  05-21-2004  11:57 am  |  Industry News