Independent Weekly to be sold to out-of-town owners

ablythe@newsobserver.comAugust 22, 2012 

The Independent Weekly, the Durham-based alternative weekly newspaper that has served the Triangle for 29 years, will be sold to the owners of weekly papers in Oregon and New Mexico.

Steve Schewel, president of Carolina Independent Publications, announced today that the company is selling the Independent and its associated website, indyweek.com, to Richard Meeker and Mark Zusman.

Meeker and Zusman own City of Roses Newspaper Company, which publishes the Pulitzer Prize-winning Willamette Week in Portland, Ore., and the Santa Fe Reporter in New Mexico.

The Independent, which Schewel and “a handful of others” started from scratch nearly three decades ago, published its first issue on April 15, 1983.

“[S]ince then it has been a difficult but glorious journey,” Schewel said. “I am so grateful for the staff here at the Independent over the years and our commitment to building a vibrant, open culture and a just community here in our beloved North Carolina home. There is nobility in this work, and I am so lucky to have been able to do it.”

The sale is scheduled to take place Oct. 1.

Though the new owners live in Portland, Meeker has a noted family connection in the Triangle. He is the brother of former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker and his father lives in Ocracoke.

“I am thrilled that the new owners of the Independent will be Richard and Mark,” Schewel said in a statement on the publication's website. “This is the best possible landing place for the Indy. They do some of the best alternative journalism in the country.”

In 2005, a reporter at Willamette Week won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

The new owners, Schewel said, know how to run a profitable newsweekly without losing sight of his goals for quality journalism and community service.

Schewel, a Durham City Council member, developed a friendship with Meeker and Zusman while attending conventions of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies over the years.

Schewel and Meeker began discussing the sale several months ago while having coffee at the Raleigh Times restaurant.

At 61, Schewel said he is ready for new challenges. The publication – which offers community, political and entertainment news – could benefit from new ideas and energy, Schewel said.

In 2010, the company expanded its mission and reach, holding the first Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh, a three-day event featuring local, national and international bands.

Schewel said his company, CIP, will retain ownership of the festival, scheduled this year for Sept. 6-8.

“I love Hopscotch,” said Schewel. “It is a huge success and has already become a signature event in Raleigh, and it has given the Independent itself an enormous boost. We will continue the close, symbiotic partnership between Hopscotch and the Independent going forward, even though we will now be under different ownerships.”

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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