Aw, the Chicago Reader no longer locally owned

And this from Crain’s Chicago Business, as I said, aw.

Chicago Reader sold to Florida publisher

By Gregory Meyer
July 24, 2007
(Crain’s) — The Chicago Reader has been acquired by a Tampa, Fla.-based publisher, ending 36 years of local ownership.

Creative Loafing Inc. said Tuesday that it has taken over the free alternative weekly newspaper and sister publication Washington City Paper of Washington, D.C. Terms were not disclosed.

“We’ve had a great ride. Now we’re happily handing the keys to a new generation,” Chicago Reader Inc. President Bob Roth said in a statement. Mr. Roth, who founded the Reader in 1971 with two college friends, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The deal comes as the alternative-weekly industry consolidates and highly profitable classified ads shift to free Web sites such as Craigslist. In January 2006, the best-known name in the alternative arena, Village Voice Media, was acquired by New Times Inc., stitching together a nationwide chain of weeklies.

In acquiring the Reader’s parent, Creative Loafing adds two papers to four it already publishes in Atlanta; Tampa; Sarasota, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., giving it a weekly circulation of a half-million, the company said. The Reader’s weekly circulation is 135,000 papers, according to Creative Loafing.

“There has never been a more exciting or challenging time to be in the publishing business. We’re thrilled to be in the position to take advantage of the trends that are emerging: localism, local search, hard hitting, community-focused journalism,” Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason said in a statement.

BIA Digital Partners, a Chantilly, Va.-based investment firm, helped finance the acquisition.

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