Creative Loafing expands into Chicago and Washington

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A message from Ben Eason, chairman and CEO of Creative Loafing, Inc.:

Creative Loafing Inc. completed an acquisition on Monday that nearly doubles the size of our company. Two of the nation’s most outstanding alternative newsweeklies — the pa-St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

This is a big step for us. I’m confident it will enhance our mission: to help urban explorers enrich their lives and strengthen their communities. We are thrilled that CL will be in a better position to lead our industry of alternative newspapers into the excitement of new local search, the next model for online classifieds and better ways to connect with people who share similar passions for culture and life. We hope you’ll continue to push us to meet your needs for content and that you’ll continue to share our hopes for the future of our civic life. This is the essence of what Creative Loafing is all about.

There has never been a more exciting or challenging time in the publishing business. Unlike the dailies, we have a real connection with young, sophisticated readers who share our unconventional perspective on the world and on their communities, and with people of all ages who relish experiencing the cultural assets in the cities where they live, work and play.

We’ve built that relationship by providing hard-hitting journalism, comprehensive “see and do” listings, award-winning criticism, insightful columns and, increasingly on the web, a lively exchange among our readers about local politics and culture.

None of that changes with this acquisition. In fact, we think the combination will give us new resources to expand and to better serve our audience and advertisers.

Over the last few years, we’ve begun publishing zoned advertisements; expanded web offerings with such features as blogs, podcasts and deals for readers; and developed a suite of exciting, fun events that appeal to our audience of urban explorers. We’ve transformed ourselves into a company that offers all kinds of new platforms and tools for our audience of active, educated people.

Some of you remember the beginning of these newspapers. We’ve been a part of Atlanta since my folks, Debbie and Chick Eason, founded the first Creative Loafing in Atlanta in 1972. We expanded to Charlotte in 1987, Tampa in 1988 and we expanded into Sarasota in 1999. We are a minority investor in the Birmingham Weekly. My sisters, Taylor and Jennie, work with me at Creative Loafing, and this is still very much a family business.

Now we have two major additions. The Chicago Reader, founded in 1971, was one of the first alternative newspapers in the country. It now has an average weekly circulation of 135,000 papers. The Washington City Paper, founded in 1982, has an average circulation of 80,000. Our acquisition also includes the Straight Dope column, whose website (straightdope.com) has nearly 2.3 million page views every month.

Creative Loafing Inc. now has a total circulation of over 500,000 papers and more than 10 million page views online every month. We think we’ll be more attractive to national advertisers than we were separately, and it will be a real advantage to combine forces in expanding our web publishing.

This acquisition reflects our confidence in the future of alternative publishing. Certainly, we will serve our audience and advertisers better than ever before.

Statement from Creative Loafing Inc. (.pdf)

Statement from Chicago Reader/Washington City Paper (pdf)

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