“Famed D.C. entrepreneur and investor Mark Ein will buy D.C. alt-weekly Washington City Paper in a deal expected to close in the first week of January and to return the 36-year-old newspaper to health and stability, reports Washington Business Journal, which added that “Ein, chairman and majority owner of the Washington Kastles, Venturehouse Group LLC and Falls Church security company Kastle Systems, didn’t disclose terms of the deal, but cited the need for high-quality journalism — “particularly today,” he said.
According to a release, “Ein reached an agreement to purchase the Washington City Paper (WCP), the alternative weekly newspaper renowned for its high-quality, responsible, local journalism since 1981, from SouthComm Inc. Mr. Ein, a D.C.-area native and experienced venture capitalist and philanthropist, is making a strong commitment to the paper’s sustainability over the long-term, retaining Alexa Mills as chief editor, and assembling initial groups of WCP Alumni and Washington-based business and civic leaders to provide editorial and financial support to City Paper, respectively.”
Said Ein, “Every thriving community needs strong local news, and Washington City Paper has been a critical part of the fabric of our city, and a great incubator of journalistic talent, for decades. With a talented staff and the support of our initial groups of respected journalistic veterans and business and civic leaders, I want to do everything I can to insure that the City Paper continues producing great journalism and responsible local news for decades to come.”
The release added that under his leadership, “Ein has formed two groups to re-energize the paper. In the first group are founding members of the Washington City Paper Journalist Alumni Group that worked at City Paper during their career and that will offer editorial and other support. Members include CNN Anchor Jake Tapper, author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Kate Boo. The latter two have each won both the MacArthur Genius Award and National Book Award.
“Ein has also garnered the support of an initial group of the “Friends of Washington City Paper” that includes Washington-based business and civic leaders who will help in individual ways including advising, contributing and investing. Members include Monumental Sports & Entertainment founder and CEO Ted Leonsis, renowned chef and ThinkFoodGroup founder José Andrés, former DC mayor Tony Williams, I.M.P. Chairman Seth Hurwitz, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer, author George Pelecanos, executive Mark Walsh, and BrandLinkDC Co-CEO Jayne Sandman. Advisors on the acquisition include journalist Harry Jaffe, fundraiser Nancy Anderson and communications executives Eric London and David Dreyer, and Latham & Watkins.
“”It speaks volumes about City Paper that so many extraordinary journalists and leaders from across the Washington landscape have come together so quickly to support the City Paper‘s future success,” Ein said. He anticipates expanding the groups considerably and added “We will need and work for broad community support so City Paper can be sustainable and fulfill its important mission over the long-term. We hope and expect many more people will join and contribute to our team.”
“Readers can show their support for Washington City Paper by using the hashtag #ISupportWCP.
“”We are overjoyed today here at City Paper because we are committed to local and public service journalism. We are especially excited to get back to work. We have many story ideas right now,” says Alexa Mills, WCP‘s editor. Ms. Mills will remain in her post as chief editor and there will be a search for a new Publisher, with current publisher Eric Norwood continuing to be part of the paper for the foreseeable future. While Mr. Ein will support the paper, especially as it relates to building and strengthening its foundation, he will not have any daily role.
“As the result of today’s announcement, Ms. Mills was able to assure the WCP staff that they can expect continuity with regard to their roles and salaries at current levels.”
Business Journal photo.