The most interesting thing about Chris Ferrell's SouthComm Communications, which yesterday announced plans to purchase The City Paper
, is that the company thinks it can reinvent local print journalism, offering an alternative to the daily and weekly papers that prevail in just about every city.
In an interview with Pith this morning, an excited Ferrell says that the premise of his company is that people increasingly want to receive their news online and turn to print publications for stories that are more targeted and in-depth.
“This is a new model and the industry is in need of a new model,” Ferrell says.
The question is if that new model will actually work. For now, the plan is to have the print version of The City Paper
publish a Monday edition, which would include a heavy focus on business and news, and a Friday edition with more of an emphasis on arts and entertainment. Think of it as splitting the Scene
in half and publishing it twice a week. And if he goes with that model, Ferrell can pitch advertisers on two different editions of The City Paper
as well as a daily website with breaking news.
That sounds good in theory. But it's worth pointing out that in the real world, newspapers struggle to make money off their websites. The City Paper
itself remains unprofitable after eight long years.
Ferrell acknowledged that The City Paper's
newly invigorated web presence will be covering the same ground as his other online property, NashvillePost.com. He doesn't offer many details on how he will make the pair more complementary, except to say the two sites won't have different reporters covering the same story. No layoffs are planned, he added, and both City Paper
editor Clint Brewer and NashvillePost.com editor Geert De Lombaerde will retain their posts.
The same goes for City Paper
publisher Albie Del Favero, the co-founder of the modern-day Scene
—who is now in the midst of another experiment in journalism.