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Creative Loafing, Inc.
Type Privately held
Founded 1972
Founder(s) Debbie Eason,
Chick Eason
Headquarters Tampa, Florida, United States
Area served Chicago IL, Washington D.C., Atlanta GA, Tampa FL, Charlotte NC, Sarasota FL
Industry Publishing
Products Alternative weekly Newspapers
Owner(s) Atalaya Capital Management
Website creativeloafing.com

Creative Loafing is the name of four alternative weekly newspapers published in four different cities by Tampa, Florida-based Creative Loafing, Inc. All four papers share some columns and articles, but each city's edition focuses on local reporting of news, culture, and entertainment. Before September 2006, the Tampa and Sarasota editions were published under the name Weekly Planet. The company also acquired the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper in 2007. After filing for bankruptcy in 2008, the company was sold to Atalaya Capital Management on August 25, 2009.[1]

Contents

History

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Original editions

The home page of Creative Loafing. Note the links to each of its six branches, as well as the central logo. The publication's motto "Shelter from the mainstream" features the bomb shelter symbol used during the Cold War.

First published in 1972, the flagship Creative Loafing Atlanta (ISSN 08898685) is the oldest of the four papers, and currently has the largest circulation at around 130,000. This makes it one of the top twenty alternative weeklies in the United States, as indexed by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Founders Deborah and Elton "Chick" Eason established Creative Loafing Charlotte (OCLC 34797893) in 1987, and Creative Loafing Tampa (OCLC 71753914) in 1988. The company once owned another Loafing paper, Creative Loafing Savannah (OCLC 35905461), which later became Connect Savannah. They also owned Spectator Magazine in Raleigh, NC, which they sold to The Independent Weekly in 2002. The paper was promptly shut down.

Weekly Planet

Ben Eason, son of Deborah and Elton, purchased the Tampa paper from his parents in 1994 and changed its name to the Weekly Planet. In 1998 he expanded the paper and launched a second Weekly Planet in Sarasota, Florida. Two years later, in September 2000, he led a group of investors to purchase a controlling interest in the entire Creative Loafing chain, and subsequently brought the Planet papers into the fold. After a false start during which the May 31, 2006 edition of Tampa's Planet was prematurely published with a Creative Loafing banner, the Tampa paper officially reverted to its former name and the Sarasota paper became Creative Loafing Sarasota.[2][3]

Partnership with Cox Enterprises

To help finance the 2000 deal transferring ownership to Ben Eason's group, media conglomerate Cox Enterprises purchased a 25% minority share of the company for approximately US$5 million. In the process, Cox executives filled two seats on Creative Loafing's eight-member board.[4] An uneasy four-year relationship between the two companies followed, as Cox also owns Atlanta's only daily, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as television and radio outlets in the Atlanta area. After the Journal-Constitution in April 2003 quietly launched its own free entertainment weekly named Access Atlanta, in direct competition with Creative Loafing, the Easons and Creative Loafing board members voted to censure the two Cox executives for unethical conduct, and by June 2004 both companies agreed to allow the chain to repurchase its shares from Cox.[5][6]

Acquisitions, Bankruptcy

On July 24, 2007, Creative Loafing announced the purchase of the Washington City Paper and the Chicago Reader,[7] along with the Reader's properties The Straight Dope and the SDMB, the associated message board. According to CL executives, the papers will receive neither name changes nor major content adjustments.[8]

In order to accomplish the acquisitions, the company borrowed $40 million. The ensuing economic slump hurt ad sales and their ability to pay down this debt. Creative Loafing filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on September 29, 2008. As a result the company was sold at a bankruptcy auction to its largest creditor Atalaya Capital Management on August 25, 2009 for $5 million. (This exceeded a bid of $2.3 million by the Easons. Ben Eason was removed as editor).[1]

References

  1. ^ a b Scott, Jeffry (August 25, 2009), "Creative Loafing chain sold to biggest creditor for $5 million", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com/business/creative-loafing-chain-sold-123525.html, retrieved August 27, 2009  
  2. ^ "Tampa alternative weekly changing identity". Tampa Bay Business Journal. 2006-09-19. http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2006/09/18/daily24.html. Retrieved 2007-01-19.  
  3. ^ Creative Loafing Press Release (2006-09-22). "Weekly Planet Toasts Name Change with 'Best of the Bay' Beerfest". Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. http://aan.org/alternative/Aan/ViewArticle?oid=oid%3A171412. Retrieved 2007-01-19.  
  4. ^ Iwan, Christine (2000-09-27). "Creative Loafing to Sell Minority Interest to Cox". Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. http://aan.org/alternative/Aan/ViewArticle?oid=oid%3A1099. Retrieved 2007-01-18.  
  5. ^ "Creative Loafing goes to battle with AJC". Atlanta Business Chronicle. 2003-06-03. http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2003/06/02/daily20.html. Retrieved 2007-01-29.  
  6. ^ Hundley, Kris (2004-07-19). "Weekly Planet is back in its own orbit". St. Petersburg Times. http://www.sptimes.com/2004/07/19/Business/Weekly_Planet_is_back.shtml. Retrieved 2007-01-18.  
  7. ^ Hau, Louis (2007-07-24). "Ambitious Move By Creative Loafing". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/2007/07/24/creative-loafing-reader-biz-media-cx_lh_0724bizcreative.html. Retrieved 2008-01-14.  
  8. ^ Ahrens, Frank (2007-07-25). "City Paper Sold to Tampa Alt-Weekly Group". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/24/AR2007072402024.html. Retrieved 2008-01-14.  

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