We're for sale.
Confirming what the Scene's newsroom has assumed to be the case for some time now, The Tennessean quotes Vic Gatto, chairman of the Scene's parent company SouthComm, saying that the company is looking to sell the alt-weekly, along with Nfocus and the Nashville Post.
SouthComm's chief operating officer Blair Johnson confirmed the news in an email but declined to elaborate on Gatto's comments to The Tennessean. So here are those:
“The choice is hire a new CEO and start building and competing against The Tennessean, and sell it and let the new buyer build their own team and strategy,” Gatto said. “We are looking at both right now.”
“The alt-weeklies are much more consumer focused and sensitive to the economy,” Gatto said. “The B2B is more stable but doesn’t grow as fast or as big. In good economies like we have today, the Scene is a great property. In 2009, it was harder."
Gatto tells the daily that SouthComm is talking to multiple potential buyers, including local groups. As of this writing, we know little more than that.
The news comes two months after SouthComm announced significant cuts across the company, including then-Scene editor Steve Cavendish and arts editor Laura Hutson. SouthComm has also sold off or is in the process of selling alt-weeklies in Atlanta, Washington D.C. (venture capitalist Mark Ein purchased the Washington City Paper in December), Cincinnati, Kansas City and Tampa.
Ein's purchase was greeted by many media observers as a promising development, but it's been a rough year for alt-weeklies generally. The famed Village Voice announced in August that it would cease publishing a weekly print edition. And in November, LA Weekly was purchased by a then-secret group of investors and promptly gutted.