Creative Loafing sells its cover, critics review and news pages for charity
To raise money for The Children's Home charity, Creative Loafing in Tampa has opened an online auction allowing the highest bidder to provide content and make editorial choices for its Jan. 20 edition.
The items for sale include: its lead cover image, a five-star review from its restaurant critic Brian Ries, a local band profile and photo shoot, the chance to write a music review of your choice and a chance to add your questions in person to an interview political editor Mitch Perry will conduct with a politician for a story in the newspaper and Perry's podcast.
These items involving the newspaper's actual content are sprinkled among more conventional bid items such as an indie record shopping spree and acting classes at the Venue Actors Studio. The suggested opening bids are rather low -- the one for the cover is $100 -- and the possibilities for problems seem plentiful.
What if a group of white supremacists want to buy the cover? Or that guy who swears Stephen King helped kill John Lennon? Can Creative Loafing say no if the image suggested isn't definitively offensive?
And doesn't the whole business, coming as the six-newspaper chain is climbing out of bankruptcy, reinforce the notion that their editorial product is unsteady enough to be bought out?
"This is our way of saying 'This is not how we do business,'" said Creative Loafing editor David Warner, clearly digging how vaguely disquieting this whole episode was for me. "just this once, you'll see what you get if our content actually is for sale. It's ironic, unchartered territory."
Based on an annual auction held by the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, it's also an interesting bit of irreverence coming as the chain's new owners hire more conventional newspaper types to run its properties -- from former St. Pete Times publisher Marty Petty joining as CEO to former Chicago Tribune managing editor Jim Warren becoming publisher of the chain's Chicago Reader.
The auction started this morning and concludes in December; the newspaper expects to maintain editorial control over the material provided by winning bidders. Warner wasn't sure, but believed The Stranger raises somewhere around $50,000 with its auctions.
And yes, I realize auctioning the newspaper's content is mostly a bid for free publicity, which I'm providing.
But I'm thinking I just might get a posse together here at Times Publishing and buy a big cover ad for our free weekly newspaper, TBT.
Hey, it's all for a good cause and free publicity, right?