Rumors started swirling earlier this week that the Indpendent Weekly was being sold. We reached out to a few Indy employees, all of which said 'no comment' and so it seemed imminent.
We didn't know when or where or to whom, but we now have all of those answers. After reading this article earlier in the week also about the end of weeklies, it's interesting to see the Indy being sold off. Hopscotch is not part of the deal and we expect it to become its own product and brand in the coming years, not needing the Indy as a backbone.
With the N&O adding a paywall and starting to charge for online content as well, the local publishing industry is obviously going through some growing pains.
Below is the press release:
Steve Schewel, president of Carolina Independent Publications (CIP), announced today that the company is selling the Independent Weekly and its associated website, indyweek.com, to Richard Meeker and Mark Zusman.
Meeker and Zusman are the owners of City of Roses Newspaper Company which publishes Willamette Week, the alternative newsweekly in Portland, Oregon. They also own the Santa Fe Reporter, an alternative newsweekly in New Mexico.
The Independent published its first issue on April 15, 1983, and recently marked its 29th year of publication.
While Richard Meeker and Mark Zusman live in Portland, Meeker has an important and long-standing Triangle connection. He is the brother of former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. Richard Meeker’s father also lives in North Carolina, so he has traveled to the state frequently over many years.
“I am thrilled that the new owners of the Independent will be Richard and Mark,” Schewel said. “This is the best possible landing place for the Indy. They do some of the best alternative journalism in the country. In 2005, one of their reporters at Willamette Week won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, a unique achievement among weekly newspapers. They know how to run a profitable newsweekly, but at the same time they share our ideals for quality journalism and community service. I can’t think of anyone better to both maintain the Independent’s legacy and operate a small alt-media company well and profitably.”
Schewel first met and became friends with Meeker and Zusman at conventions of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies over many years. Schewel and Meeker have kept in close touch over the years during Meeker’s visits to the Triangle, and they began discussing the deal several months ago over coffee at the Raleigh Times restaurant.
Schewel noted that his company, CIP, will retain ownership of one of the company’s assets, the Hopscotch Music Festival, which will take place Sept. 6-8 in Raleigh. Hopscotch is not included in the sale to Meeker and Zusman.
“I love Hopscotch,” said Schewel. “It is a huge success and has already become a signature event in Raleigh, and it has given the Independent itself an enormous boost. We will continue the close, symbiotic partnership between Hopscotch and the Independent going forward, even though we will now be under different ownerships.”
Schewel explained why he is selling the paper now, after 29 years of publication. “The paper has survived the recession and returned to prosperity and added two new successful niche publications. Our political endorsements are more coveted than ever. The staff is strong. And I’m 61 years old, enjoying my city council work, and ready for some new challenges. It’s a great time for someone new to come in with their ideas and energy.”
He continued, “Starting the Independent from scratch with a handful of colleagues three decades ago was incredibly hard, and since then it has been a difficult but glorious journey. I am so grateful for the staff here at the Independent over the years and our commitment to building a vibrant, open culture and a just community here in our beloved North Carolina home. There is nobility in this work, and I am so lucky to have been able to do it. ”
The closing date for the sale of the Independent is Oct. 1.