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Press Clippings

August 13, 2007
Formerly at Voice, Editor Takes a Job at the Competition

Anyone who has ever been fired abruptly from a high-profile job can perhaps relate to the revenge fantasy that David Blum seems to be living out — and the retaliation he may have in mind for his former employer.
Mr. Blum was one of a half-dozen top editors who have revolved through the door at The Village Voice over the last few years. For those keeping score, he served for six months ending in early March, only to be sacked quite publicly after he argued with staff members over their concerns that the paper lacked racial diversity.
Now Mr. Blum will reappear at the helm of a competing, albeit less storied, alternative free weekly newspaper. Last week, just days after buying New York Press, Manhattan Media named him editor in chief as well as editorial director of the company’s community newspaper group.
Mr. Blum’s first task will be to compete more vigorously with The Voice. He declined to comment on his firing.
“I want to make The Press as fresh and unpredictable as possible,” he said in a telephone interview. “I tried to do that at The Village Voice, but I didn’t have enough time at The Voice to achieve the goals that I had at the paper. But here I will.”
And what is different about The Press that makes him so sure?
“I am excited to be working with a publisher and an owner who lives in New York, who knows the city extremely well,” he said. “I think that will be a big plus for The Press — and for me.”
The Voice is owned by Village Voice Media, which publishes newsweeklies in 17 cities across the country. The company’s headquarters are in Phoenix. A spokeswoman for The Village Voice in Manhattan declined to comment.
Mr. Blum, a New Yorker, was replaced at The Voice by Tony Ortega, a California native who had most recently been working in Florida. At the time Mr. Ortega was hired, Mr. Blum did not seem to have any problems with his out-of-town credentials, calling him “a very smart choice for the job.”
Mr. Blum said he was not replacing anybody at The Press; Tom Allon, chief executive of Manhattan Media, created his job title after buying the paper.
Mr. Blum will start on Sept. 5, but is already pondering ways to shake things up.
“The formula for a free weekly appeals to me as an editor because it gives me a chance to try things out and bring in new young, fresh voices,” Mr. Blum said. “That is something that The Village Voice had done once upon a time itself.”


The edgy but faded alternative paper is saying goodbye to sex ads
By: Edited by Valerie Block

Sex may sell, but not in the New York Press. The edgy but faded alternative paper that once challenged the Village Voice is saying goodbye to sex ads--and about $1 million in annual revenue.
New owner Manhattan Media, which bought the New York Press last week, says the explicit ads--for escort services and massage parlors--cost more than they're worth, since they drive away mainstream advertisers.
The publisher is dropping all such ads with photos in this week's issue, and will phase out the text ads.
"We're making a business decision," says Manhattan Media President Tom Allon.
Mr. Allon plans to reinvent the New York Press as an "independent paper" that combines columns and criticism with community coverage. He'll add some elements from Manhattan freebie Our Town Downtown, which he is shutting down.


New York Times
August 1, 2007
Manhattan Media Buys a Weekly

The New York Press, the city's second-largest free weekly newspaper after The Village Voice, was expected to be sold today to Manhattan Media, a publisher of weekly newspapers.
The media company, based in New York, bought the paper for an undisclosed amount from Avalon Equity Fund, an investment firm that took over The Press in 2002.
"The paper is rich with a 20-year history of being an alternative publication with a distinct perspective on news and art, and we are hoping to expand upon that," said Tom Allon, president and chief executive of Manhattan Media.
The paper currently covers Manhattan and a small part of Brooklyn. Mr. Allon said he wanted to expand deeper into Brooklyn.
The New York Press became known for its brash style, with outlandish cartoons and opinion pieces. Starting in 1989, the paper positioned itself as "the alternative to the alternative" and was distributed free, eventually forcing its main competitor, The Village Voice, to follow suit.
Though The New York Press, with a circulation of 105,000, has less than half the readership of The Village Voice, it still remains the paper's biggest rival.
Manhattan Media owns four community weekly papers: Our Town, The West Side Spirit, The Westsider and The Chelsea Clinton News, the oldest community paper in Manhattan. It also owns the magazines Avenue and New York Family. The company said it planned to merge The New York Press with the Our Town Downtown, a weekly paper that circulates in Lower Manhattan, which was started in 2006.
"Manhattan Media is based here in the city, and they have a long history with community weeklies," said Peter Polimino, president of The New York Press and chief financial officer of Avalon Equity Fund, which is based in Denver. "It just seems like a natural fit for them to acquire The New York Press."


The New York Observer
At the New York Press: Layoffs, Circulation Drop, and No More Hooker Ads!
by Michael Calderone Published: August 2, 2007
Tags: Media, New York Press

“We expect to give The Voice a run for its money,” said Tom Allon, president and C.E.O. of Manhattan Media.
Yesterday, it was announced that Manhattan Media had purchased the New York Press, the alt-weekly that challenged the rival Voice during its mid-90’s heydey, but has since fallen on hard times.
So how does the feisty (and sometimes salacious) Press, fit in with Manhattan Media’s stable of community papers like Our Town and West Side Spirit?
For one thing, ads for transvestite hookers and Asian massage parlors are gone!
“As of this week, we are not going to accept any explicit advertising,” Mr. Allon said.
“We’re probably kissing away about a million dollars a year in revenue,” he added. “We’re not making a moral or puritanical decision. We just believe in the long-term, it’s not best for the publication.”
Of course, it’s all about synergy these days, and publishing such adult ads in Our Town probably wouldn’t fly.
And then there’s The Press’s circulation, which Mr. Allon estimates at between 80,000 to 103,000. Next week, that gets slashed to 50,000.
Why the drop?
“A fair amount of the press circulation was above 42nd Street,” said Mr. Allon, whose other publications already have an uptown readership. With The Press, he said, "we’re going to flood the zone downtown.”
But, according to Mr. Allon, the combined circulation for advertisers will be around 103,000.
And after Labor Day, Mr. Allon said there will be a Brooklyn edition of The Press.
On the editorial front, the Press staff will be merged with Manhattan Media’s Downtown paper. Jerry Portwood will remain as Press editor, while Downtown’s Bill Gunlock becomes executive editor. Edward-Isaac Dovere, politics editor for company's City Hall paper, will now oversee the beat across publications.
Although Mr. Allon said he intends to staff up with additional reporters and editors, and invite back selected past contributors, there have already been cuts: Press assistant editor Kari Milchan was laid off yesterday, as well as two salespeople.
And in taking the company forward, Mr. Allon dares not speak of alt-weeklies.
“I’ve told all the people in the office that ‘alternative’ is a four letter word,” he said, dubbing it "very '70's."
“We’re going to classify [The Press] as an independent newspaper, which I think is much more 2007,” Mr. Allon said. He added: “It’s going to have independent voices in terms of politics, media, culture. We’re not going to lean left or right.”


New York Times “City Room”
August 6, 2007, 4:22 pm
New York Press Gets Rid of Sex Ads
By Sewell Chan

The new owners of New York Press, the free alternative weekly founded in 1988, announced a major change today, and it has nothing to do with the paper’s political coverage, underground sensibility or arts listings. The scrappy weekly is dropping its sexually themed ads.
The banned ads include those “that advertise illegal massage parlors and blatant ads promoting prostitution,” the local chapter of the National Organization for Women announced today. (The New York Observer’s Media Mob blog reported the decision last week.)
Last week, Manhattan Media — which owns a chain of community weeklies, including The Chelsea Clinton News, founded in 1939; Our Town, founded in 1970; The Westsider, founded in 1972; and The West Side Spirit, founded in 1985 — announced that it bought The Press from a private equity group.
The group had bought the weekly in 2003 from Russ Smith, the paper’s founder, who continues to write his “Mugger” column for the newspaper. Manhattan Media will merge Our Town Downtown, which it started in 2006, with New York Press.
NOW said that Manhattan media “will initially will take a financial hit by dropping sex ads that have made up a sizable percentage of New York Press sales, but the long-term growth prospects for this widely circulated newspaper dramatically increase as it is remade into a reputable publication.”
Sonia Ossorio, president of the organization’s New York City chapter, praised Tom Allon, the chief executive of Manhattan Media, for the decision. NOW has estimated that New York Press made $12,000 a week from sexually themed ads; the publication has not confirmed that estimate.
NOW believes that ads for massage parlors and similar businesses promote prostitution. “With the increased public awareness of global trafficking of women and girls, including American teenagers, advertisers and readers find newspapers loaded with explicit content and photos of half-naked women just not acceptable,” NOW said in its statement. “Not something they want in their reception room or on the coffee table.”
The NOW local chapter began a campaign last fall to end human trafficking. It has targeted newspapers and magazine that accept ads from massage parlors and asked them to sign an antitrafficking pledge.
The local chapter of NOW was founded in 1966 and says it has 7,000 members locally and 35,000 statewide. The chapter said in a statement:
New York Press, along with the Village Voice, New York Magazine and the Verizon Yellow Pages are the leading publications that serve as the intermediary between “johns” and trafficked people. The Village Voice, a weekly with more than twice the readership of the Press, generates an average of $80,000 per month from the adult ads on its back pages, New York Magazine generates about $40,000 a month and the Verizon Yellow Pages generates more than $1 million a year.
The Village Voice has not responded to a message left with a spokeswoman. A Verizon spokeswoman said its SuperPages advertising was now handled by a company called Idearc. A message has been left with that company.
Serena Torrey, a spokeswoman for New York magazine, said in a statement, “If ever the authorities bring evidence of illegal activity behind any of our ads to our attention, we will take immediate action to remove the ad — and the advertiser — from our magazine permanently.”
Roja Heydarpour contributed reporting.


New York Post Page Six
March 19, 2007

FORMER Sotheby's owner Alfred Taubman was the innocent victim of overzealous prosecutors who cut deals with the guilty parties to make him a scapegoat, he charges in his upcoming autobiography.
In "Threshold Resistance," due next month from HarperCollins, the Detroit shopping-mall developer seems to still be seething that he spent nearly a year in prison in 2002 after he was convicted of conspiring with Christie's to fix prices.
Taubman recalls he was warned in 1993 before putting Dede Brooks in charge of Sotheby's operations worldwide.
"No one questioned her smarts, guile and dedication. But there was something about her character that troubled people," Taubman writes. "My reputation, my family's good name, the company I had spent a lifetime building, my freedom - all would be placed in jeopardy because of misplaced trust in a key executive."
Taubman admits he met with Christie's chairman Sir Anthony Tennant 12 times over a four-year period. But "never once did we address the subject of pricing or commissions . . . Dede participated in this illegal act without my knowledge and certainly without my instructions," he writes.
But Brooks told the feds she was following Taubman's orders when she met with her counterpart at Christie's, Christopher Davidge, to jointly raise the auction houses' commissions.
Taubman knew he was in deep trouble when his p.r. guru, the late John Scanlon, told him Brooks had hired lawyer Steven Kaufman, whom he described as "a flipper . . . an attorney specializing in offering up a superior to make a deal with a prosecutor."
Scanlon told Taubman, "Kaufman rarely goes to trial. He has only one play in his playbook, but he runs it very well."
Taubman, who appears on the April cover of Avenue magazine, told editorial director Pamela Gross that his lawyers may have steered him wrong when they advised against calling civil-rights heroine Rosa Parks as a character witness. Billionaire Taubman supported Parks for the last 12 years of her life after a robber broke into her home and beat her up.
"She lived in a very rough neighborhood in Detroit," Taubman told Avenue. "I moved her into an apartment building that I owned, to make sure that she was secure." Parks volunteered to testify, but he nixed the idea.


New York Post
March 14, 2007

HOW is Sen. Hillary Clinton like Lady Godiva, the Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of Coventry, England, in the 11th century? That's what we wanted to know when the weekly newspaper City Hall - which asked various pundits to supply nicknames for local presidential candidates Clinton and Rudy Giuliani - quoted Ed Koch as saying, "I'd give Giuliani 'Inspector Javert' and Hillary 'Lady Godiva.' " Javert was the ruthless prosecutor in "Les Miserables." Godiva, the history books say, did her nude equestrian show to lower taxes on her husband's starving subjects, and Hillary isn't known as a tax cutter. But Koch told us the weekly paper got it all mixed up. "I picked Lady Guinevere because she was the first lady in King Arthur's court. She goes out of her way not to be naked in public." Asked to handicap the candidates' chances, Koch said, "Hillary wins, the city wins. Rudy wins, the country loses." Bill O'Reilly picked "The Sheriff" for Giuliani and "The Weather Vane" for Clinton.


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Press Clippings

The New York Sun
June 9, 2006

Just four weeks after the launch of Our Town Downtown, a free weekly aimed at families living below 28th street, local publishing conglomerate Manhattan Media will introduce a free monthly paper Monday for New York's government employees. [More]

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