Speaking of Fish Wrappers: An Interview With the President of Village Voice Media

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After reading this week's cover story about the massive job losses and financial troubles at South Florida's daily newspapers, you may wonder how New Times is faring. Our tiny newsroom, not surprisingly, has also shrunk in recent years, although not by the same kind of numbers as the dailies.

In the past couple of years, Village Voice Media Holdings LLC, which owns New Times, has laid off employees at several of the 14 alternative weeklies it owns throughout the country and has sold three papers -- Cleveland Scene, Nashville Scene, and East Bay Express. New Times Broward-Palm Beach has seen its newsroom staff shrink from 17 to 13 and its circulation drop from around 80,000 to 54,500.

I called Scott Tobias, president and chief operating officer of Village Voice Media, to ask him about the future of New Times. After the jump, read excerpts from the interview.

Do you foresee the paper going entirely online?

"No."

So what's the future for the paper?

"I think there is unbelievable growth potential online," Tobias said. "Print feeds online, and online feeds print."

How has the rise of Craigslist impacted New Times' ad revenue?

Tobias explained that New Times never relied on automotive and real estate ads as much as daily papers did. But he admits, "Certainly we lost some business to Craig. But we have our own product, backpage.com, which is doing fantastic."

What about the old wisdom that an alt-weekly paper whose page count falls below 100 is not profitable? (New Times hovers between 72 and 80 pages these days.)

"That's absolutely not true; we are profitable in both markets," Tobias said, referring to the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times papers.

Right now, Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times operate as two separate papers, with different offices and staffs. Will they merge soon?

"Nope."

Any plans to sell New Times?

"Nope. We love our position in South Florida," he said. "Both papers have their individual strengths. We've got great management teams; we've got great positions in the market."


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