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Creative Loafing files for bankruptcy protection

September 29, 2008 at 1:11 pm by John F. Sugg in Inside CL, News

Creative Loafing Inc. — which owns alternative weekly newspapers in Chicago, Washington, Tampa, Charlotte and Sarasota, as well as Atlanta — today filed for bankruptcy protection. Prompting the move was a debt load of more than $40 million.
“The company owned owed more money than it can pay back right now,” CEO Ben Eason said in a conference call with company managers. The bankruptcy petition was filed in Tampa, where the company’s based, and was timed to preclude an interest payment that was owed lenders on Wednesday.

The company will ask federal bankruptcy Judge Caryl Delano to stay any attempt by creditors to liquidate the assets or take control of the company.

“We’re doing the right things,” Eason said. “This will give us a fresh start. It is a reorganization, not a liquidation. Everybody gets paid.”

The debt load was substantially increased last year when Creative Loafing purchased the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper. Since then, advertising revenues for the print editions of the papers has deteriorated, as they have for newspapers nationwide. Over the same period last year, revenues were down between 10 and 15 percent.

Among the largest unsecured creditors is Fayetteville Publishing Co., which prints the Atlanta paper and some of the other papers in the group. The Georgia Department of Labor, the Georgia Department of Revenue and the IRS are also among the creditors.

Creative Loafing was founded in 1972 by Debby Eason in Atlanta and later opened several other papers in the Southeast. Her son, Ben, who owned the Tampa paper, acquired the rest of the family newspapers in 2000.

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16 Responses to “Creative Loafing files for bankruptcy protection”

  1. Sellout Says:

    I know this is a tough time for everyone at Creative Loafing. I hope the paper makes it through with its talented staff intact. But…

    What’s up with this post John? No smartass remarks saying the quality of the newspaper led to this? No pointed questioning of the leadership? No pining about how the paper had abandoned its investigative roots and has reaped what it sowed?

    You’re treating the AJC and its financial difficulties a little differently, don’t ya think? Or maybe the difficulties at the AJC and at CL aren’t that different, after all. Hmmm…

  2. Sellout, redux Says:

    Dearest Sellout - When I worked for the esteemed paper, Mr. Sugg owned a healthy proportion of the company stock, making his disappointment more than professional, methinks.

  3. Tessa Horehled Says:

    NOOOOOOOOOO! I don’t even know what else to say. This is very sad news.

    I’m hiring writers for Drive A Faster Car in a few months due to my pending move out of state & redesign. Email me if interested ;)

  4. On Point Says:

    Sellout wins post of the day. He is spot on.

  5. Gray Says:

    Love the paper, love the writing. Hope that it all works itself out.

    Meanwhile, three or four of you get together and write a book in the evenings after work… Make a ton of money.

  6. DaleC Says:

    Man, this blows. Hope you guys survive.

  7. Karma Says:

    Ah John John John who’s made a career crapping on the AJC and other mainstream papers and gloating in their death knell.

    Kinda sucks when what goes around comes around, doesn’t it?

    Where’s your spite now, you blowhard? Such a muted diplomatic write-up of your own organization’s ineptitude.

    I hope the Loaf survives because it’s proven pretty valuable when I’m trying to plan what shows to go check out. But I hope they put you and your bombast out to pasture.

  8. S. Dekalb Voter Says:

    The chickens are coming to roost. The quality of CL’s reporting has gone down tremendously in the last decade. What was once a great alternative weekly has become a tabloid filled with yellow journalism. Boy do I miss the days of the old CL, where you could count on them to provide a good alternative to the AJC. Now with idiots like John Sugg, who use the paper as his personal attack dog, the editorals and news are basically worthless. Maybe the “restructure” will force some of the bad apples out. They should start with Sugg.

  9. Vic Says:

    keep your chins and fists up. McClatchy is next.

  10. John Sugg Says:

    Fair jabs from my critics, but I’ve gone after the alts as well as the dailies. The above item was a quick hit as the news was breaking. See my fuller article in CL this week, and online, and you’ll note that I don’t pull punches. As far as my stock ownership, I’ve always acknowledged it, but it was never, as one comment stated, “a healthy proportion.” A tiny, tiny fraction of the company.

  11. Independent my hass Says:

    I grew up with the Atlanta CL, and seen them in Charlotte and some incarnation in Greenville, SC. The staffs always made snotty comments about how they were “independents”, while they were just as corporate as the big boys, eating up all of their competitors.

    Irnoic to see them go through the same erosion of advertising. At least their smugness is not contrived this time.

    Long live the true independents!

  12. Duh! Says:

    Let me just say that many, many of us former sales staffers at the loaf had the foresight to basically BEG for a larger online presense as far back as 5-7years ago. The requests were continually ignored… Here is what you get.

  13. Says:

    see this comment from alleged former staffer “PassThe Beer” (dated October 3rd, 2008 at 1:48 pm) at the site of CL’s D.C. “Washington City Paper”

    Wow. There’s some behind the scenes action:

  14. GW Says:

    Should have hired me when you had the chance…

  15. MarcTwain Says:

    So we have Creative Loafing and we have New Times…two “journalism” chains that have no journalistic — or business — sense at all.

    Buying up independent alternative weeklies deserves whatever bad karma it gets.

  16. Philadelphia Media Holdings files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection :: The Clog :: Blog Archive :: Philadelphia City Paper :: Philadelphia Arts, Restaurants, Music, Movies, Jobs, Classifieds, Blogs Says:

    [...] — back in the day, filing meant you were S.O.L.; these days, not so much: Creative Loafing filed for Chapter 11 back in September and is still among the living — it’s still a sign that something’s [...]

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