Creative Loafing shutters Sarasota paper, rents name to the Herald Tribune newspaper
In an odd switcheroo, alternative newspaper chain Creative Loafing has shuttered its Sarasota newspaper, licensing its name and some content to the Herald-Tribune newspaper.
An executive at Creative Loafing wouldn't say how much the newspaper is paying for the name, but acknowledged that six staffers in Sarasota will lose their jobs in the move -- including editor/food critic Brian Ries -- though some might be hired by the Herald Tribune. The last edition of the Sarasota paper published this week, ending a 12-year-old operation; voice mail for the office there referred callers to the company's Ybor City headquarters.
"Sarasota is a very small operation, and we decided to focus our energy on our larger outlets," said Henry Scott, outgoing publisher of Creative Loafing's Atlanta newspaper, noting that the chain's other weekly newspapers are in larger markets: Chicago, Washington D.C., Charlotte, N.C. and Tampa. "It's less a matter of saving money and more a matter of focus."
The move may also signal a change in orientation for Creative Loafing from the Tampa-centric attitude of former CEO and founding family member Ben Eason. Before Eason lost ownership of the chain amid a bankruptcy reorganization, he ran the company from Tampa, wearing his Florida roots like a badge of honor.
According to a press release on the deal, the Herald Tribune will use Creative Loafing's name on its weekly TICKET entertainment magazine, rolling out a new online portal and mobile app next year.
The change puts Creative Loafing's brand name in the hands of a former rival, in a deal that surprised many local staffers. It may also serve as a sign of how challeging the newspaper business remains in a depressed economy, where it may be more profitable to sell your name than keep using it.