It won’t be easy and it certainly hasn’t been pretty, but at least the alt weekly nobody really wanted much and that’s struggled to make a profit is still in the hunt. And while not long ago staff defections and layoffs were the order of the day, the alt weekly is actually doing a bit of hiring – and not just to replace another staff defector.
Enter new Pitch music editor Natalie Gallagher.
Gallagher replaces now former music editor David Hudnall, who’s actually moving up the Pitch foodchain into the much-needed role of staff writer. Gallagher joins another worthy recent Pitch acquisition, Steve Vockrodt ( a KC Business Journal escapee).
That’s two significant hires and an important promotion, all certain to breath much needed life the alt weekly’s diminished reporter ranks. And trust me, that’s a good thing.
Still it’s pretty scary out there in print land, especially freebie/no paid subscribers print land.
The obvious problem being that as fewer and fewer eyeballs are aimed at the printed Pitch – where just about all the money is made – can alt weeklies live off the Web? Unfortunately, that’s a proposition in great doubt at this time, with legendary alt weeklies curling up and dying like the vaunted Boston Phoenix did this past March.
“A reflection of a new world in which alternative weeklies have a real problem: What, exactly, are they an alternative to?” asks John Mecklin, deputy editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “It used to be the monopolistic daily newspapers in their towns, but both the city dailies and the city weeklies have literally been taken apart by the digital revolution, with whole classes of advertising migrating online where, by and large, dailies and weeklies have been late to the revenue and technology party.
“Much of what had been staples in the bag of alt-weekly editorial tricks — event listings, music coverage, restaurant reviewing, smart-aleck attitude, general (though not universal) leftyism — was also undermined, coopted, replicated, done better or made obsolete by the rise of a host of online competitors, from the lightly staffed city observer sites (SFist, Gothamist, etc.) to Yelp to Gawker and on and on and on. In the lingo of the trade, the alt-weekly was unbundled, disaggregated and knee-capped by the kind of entrepreneurial twentysomethings the founders of many an alt-weekly had been, once upon a time, back in the historical mists of the 1970s.”
That’s the bad news, the good?
“What was actually important about alt-weeklies — and what the best of their founders were most interested in — has not yet found solid competition on the internet,” Mecklin says.
Let’s hope for the best.