Today: The Sad, Desperate State of the Pitch & Alternative Publishing in KC

 

This is not good…

At the exact time of year when it should be cashing in and getting well, what’s left of alternative newsweekly the Pitch is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. Even in its hazy, early days when I ran the show, we’d turn out 56 page issues during the all-important fourth quarter. Now, instead of flirting with 80 to 100 pages issues, it’s barely choking out 40.

This during the time of the year retailers and media count on to make ends meet.

And while good things have been said about the Pitch Web site, print is where the paychecks come from.

The questions being, how long will advertisers put up with single-story issues? And if the best the Pitch can muster is 40 pages in the 4th quarter, how low might it go come January when advertisers traditionally pull back?

Even the Star was able to avert end-of-year layoffs (despite a steep drop in 3rd quarter corporate earnings)  owing in part to stepped-up advertising by retailers expecting a huger holiday. Meanwhile the Pitch is choking out issues with scarcely a single feature story.

Little wonder…

When new owner SouthComm took over last spring, the Pitch fielded four staff writers, three of which are now gone. The main three one might argue; Nadia Plaum, David Martin and Peter "Dead Eye" Rugg.

And while it’s refreshing to be rid of the generic, aging-hippie approach to feature writing that long plagued the Pitch, unfortunately the road it’s headed down now appears closer to that of vaccuous weekly Ink.

Which by the way is eating the Pitch’s lunch at 62 pages versus 40.

Not only is the Pitch short-hitting readers in story content, its column content falls well short of what it was putting out in the early 90s even. No sports, no theater, no art, no horoscopes. It’s pretty much down to food and movies.

Speaking of which…

So short-handed is the Pitch its movie reviews are being written by editor Scott Wilson.

While that’s not as outlandish as were Star editor Mike Fannin‘s to bat for Robert Butler, it’s an indication that massive layoffs and dramatically reduced revenues have resulted in all-hands-on-deck.

Which is doubly worrisome given the Pitch appears unable to participate in the robust retail climate benefiting other local media. Because when you get right down to it, does anybody really want Kansas City’s alternative paper of record to be Ink?

How sad and embarrassing would that be?

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5 Responses to Today: The Sad, Desperate State of the Pitch & Alternative Publishing in KC

  1. Rick says:

    Hearne are we running
    out of original titles. Whats next the sad state of weather i the Kansas City area?

  2. Hearne Christopher says:

    You’re right; the Chiefs, Royals, economy, weather, the Pitch, the Star, the Power & Light District – times are tough.

    Hey, but we’ve still got Sam Brownback

  3. Again? says:

    Wasn’t this covered recently?
    I thought last time you posted this story someone said that The Pitch has been at the same page count for well over a year. Obviously they’d want to be higher I’m sure but if they were in the same range this time last year, isn’t it just business as usual? Also, I’m sure it’s not fair to compare page count with INK either. I’m sure they get a pretty good discount on printing since the Star owns the presses and all so it doesn’t cost them so much to put all that fluff in there. I rarely pick up either pub, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

  4. Balboni's Moleskine says:

    Pitch has been thin before
    Pitch always seems to take an issue off every once in a while, especially before or after one of their best-of issues. I wouldn’t bury them just yet. I think their website is great and while I no longer live in the urban core (thank god for green grass, minivans and cougars) I will use Pitch as my go-to info source on what is shakin in KC any given evening.

    The sad thing is that when I am looking to get the story on something that happened in KC I am more likely to look at pitch.com and kcconfidential.com WAY before I get the lazy two paragraph story on kansascity.com. National news i’ll just use the wires available through TBO.com (tampa bay’s newspaper has easy links to wire service stories).

    Pitch does need a makeover, it could stand to be a little bit hipper. Perhaps the new owners need to look at edgier publications like Vice Magazine (www.vice.com) and steal some ideas.

  5. BarKeeper says:

    INK Is Pure Trash
    That rag isn’t fit to wrap rotten fish guts.

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