Hard Hits at Gannett in Cincy

While we’re waiting for word about layoffs at the Courier-Journal, Gannett’s operation in Cincinnati is being hit hard. The 10-person staff at CiN Weekly, the weekly entertainment paper (Velocity equivalent) was let go, as was the Enquirer’s editorial page editor.

The weekly is apparently being re-branded as MetroMix, a move already made in other Gannett markets, including Indianapolis and Nashville.  Officially, Gannett is calling the new Cincy rag “the premier printed snapshot of all things entertainment that younger adults need to plan their free time.”

In other words, “the best we can do without any staff members to, you know, actually write stuff.”

This cheerful sentence is from CityBeat, a Cincy website following the layoffs: “Gannett already has made that change in the Indianapolis and Nashville markets, replacing local publications with one standard weekly that uses copy produced from various corporate sites nationwide.”

The story notes that staff members have been placing MetroMix stickers on CiN Weekly distribution boxes.

In all, 100 jobs are expected to be lost in Cincinnati.

Velocity Cutting Back Distribution

Check out this picture from the Courier-Journal parking lot:

Like so many sheep headed over a cliff, those are Velocity distribution boxes all lined up, ready to go. Where they’re headed is anybody’s guess. Our sources there won’t say there’s anything unusual going on, but given other cost-cutting moves underway at the C-J, it makes sense.

The popular rumor is that Velocity is cutting back on distribution, pulling the boxes and cutting back its print run by 30 percent. Many of the boxes in southern Indiana have been removed. By our count, there are at least 300 boxes that have been pulled from the street.

The free weekly seemed to be in trouble a year ago, when Gannett launched its online entertainment project, MetroMix.

J-Dub Jumps from Velocity to V-Tribune

Those of you familiar with the city’s celebrity party circuit may know Joey Wagner, who’s built a small empire of a business marketing, promoting and selling events. Wagner’s J-Dub Entertainment is the force behind dozens of events, including, for example, the annual Bowl for the Roses charity event at Derby time.

He says J-Dub is an “umbrella” for a myriad of business interests that he’s involved in, and it’s easy to admire Wagner’s energy. He’s an owner of Prime Lounge, where many of his events are held. And he seems to know a lot of big-name local celebrities, especially athletes including jockey Robby Albarado and ex-U of L QB Chris Redman.

So we noticed when Wagner started blogging last week at the Voice-Tribune website. He’s producing the paper’s “Best Dressed” party, which will have its Fourth Annual bash August 29 and has compiled an impressive list of sponsors.

Wagner’s entries on a Courier-Journal/Velocity site stopped in mid-April. So did mentions of his parties in Velocity and in the C-J Buzz column. Hmm.

Wagner says the Voice-Tribune is a new client and that he just decided to stop the Velocity relationship.

A Listing Alternative?

It’s almost Friday night, so you should already have your weekend planned. If you were looking for something to do, you may have picked up a Velocity to get a complete list of happenings around town. As we reported a few weeks back, LEO decided to focus its efforts elsewhere, giving up on the Plugged In listings in the paper.

Today an upstart monthly magazine is touting itself as the answer to your listings dilemma. MetroLive magazine wants to be your source for everything-to-do in town, whether it’s dining, restaurants, charity events or concerts.  And this is kind of funny — the magazine’s VP of Marketing, Cyndy Tandy, calls it low editorial — there’s nothing in the publication but listings and ads.

MetroLive launched in January, and has an online component as well.  It’s a nice four-color magazine, but it has a long way to go to replace LEO’s listings. For starters, it’s a monthly (meaning it can’t be too up-to-date), and it’s in print (meaning it can’t be too up-to-date). And the website, which is obviously not the primary focus of the business, is nowhere near comprehensive with its lists.

MetroLive is distributed free in a lot of the same places as other freebie pubs like Velocity and LEO.

As for LEO, it doesn’t seem to be losing much by dropping the listings. Its new blog, Event Horizon, offers up a handful of posts every day on stuff members of the LEO staff find compelling. Today it has six — including the big one, the Louisville Brewfest (which isn’t listed on the MetroLive site). But Stephen George said that LEO was no longer interested in being a comprehensive source, that he’d leave that up to Gannett, which has the staff to do it.

Tandy says that MetroLive is a viable replacement for the LEO listings. “The active Louisvillian needs a single vehicle and calendar to turn to when deciding when and where to spend their time and money. Our local businesses, festivals, attractions and charities can promote themselves through us, thereby serving our readers a great menu of offerings,” Tandy says in a news release.

We like the idea, but living our life online, we don’t put much stock in stuff that’s printed.  Those of you who need something tangible to hold while seeing what’s going on, MetroLive is worth picking up.

LEO’s Out of the List Biz

Here’s some bummer news for those of you still picking up LEO to check out the listings of every bar and band and event and meeting that there is to do in town. That party’s over, because LEO wants to free up its staffers’ time and can’t really compete with its big-paper rival in the compilation of comprehensive lists. Plugged In is out.

This must be good news over at Velocity and the C-J’s online site, MetroMix, which does a good job of putting out entertainment listings.

Editor Stephen George said that alt-weeklies throughout the country are re-evaluating the listing service, which brings in no money and eats up newsprint and staff time. Most everything in them is available somewhere online.

But LEO’s not simply moving listings online. George says they’re starting a blog that will be an expansion of its Staffpicks section — choosing a handful of activities to inform readers about.

“We can’t compete with the mainstream media so we might as well beat them on what they’re not doing,” George said, emphasizing that the paper will increase its critical coverage of the city’s culture.

They’re also creating an advertising section for cultural happenings that have a budget.

Read Stephen’s explanation of the changes here.