Portico Buys SC Weekly

Portico Publications, the Charlottesville partnership that owns C-Ville Weekly, has used the proceeds of their recent sale of Blue Ridge Outdoors to purchase the Columbia, South Carolina weekly, Free Times. The 17-year-old weekly has a circulation of 35,000, and appears to be quite similar to C-Ville Weekly. Richard Karpel, executive director of the Association of Alternative Weeklies, believes that this physically-distant purchase indicates that Portico is looking to build up a chain of weeklies. South Carolina’s The State has the story.

4 thoughts on “Portico Buys SC Weekly”

  1. A close friend of mine used to work at the Free Times, and I can attest that it’s a complete piece of shit. I’m not the biggest alt-weekly fan in the world, but still, this paper is way, way worse than Cville or the Hook. The editors are very bad, and since Columbia is the pits of the earth, they’d have a very hard time replacing them.

    Good luck to the Cville people — they’ve got their work cut out for them.

  2. Well, I guess if you’re gonna buy a paper on a budget, a fixer-upper is the way to go. I wonder if either of the owners of Portico (or their proxy) intend to relocate? From your description, it sounds like this will need to be a very hands-on experience, and not a matter of just letting it run, reaping the profits, and maybe replacing the editor or something.

  3. Well, on one hand, the old owner was pretty hands-on. But on the other hand, I’m sure it was making money and will continue to do so. The ad department is pretty good — it’s the people in charge on the editorial side that are the problem, and that probably doesn’t matter much anyway from a business perspective, because they’re the only game in town.

    I was talking mostly about their news coverage, which unfortunately doesn’t matter much to investors. But they’re simply not a factor in the day-to-day news cycle around there. In Charlottesville, Cville and the Hook can both be counted on to break stories and to keep the Progress on its toes. In Columbia, which I think is a larger market, the Free Times is operating in a world of its own. I don’t get the impression that many people read or care about it. If that’s something the new owners care about (which is not a given, of course) they’ll at least want to replace an editor or two.

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