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Rival buys, will end InPittsburgh

Friday, September 28, 2001

By Dan Fitzpatrick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The owners of the Pittsburgh City Paper have purchased InPittsburgh Weekly, eliminating a fierce decadelong competition between the city's two alternative newspapers.

Both papers got the news at 2 p.m. yesterday.

InPittsburgh editor Stephen Segal said the announcement was a complete surprise to the staff of about 30.

"I don't think the town can afford to have one less voice," he said.

"At a time when our city's debate has long been the difficulty of retaining young, intelligent, vibrant residents, losing one of our city's alternative weeklies is not going to make that situation any better."

The buyer, Downtown-based Steel City Media, plans to interview any InPittsburgh employee who wishes to work at Steel City, which owns City Paper and two radio stations. But after today, InPittsburgh's South Side office will close. This week's edition, which hit the streets Wednesday, is the paper's last.

When Pittsburgh City Paper editor Andy Newman, a former editor at InPittsburgh, heard the news, "I have to say I felt very somber about it. There are people over there that we like and respect."

But, he added, "There really was a question about whether two alternatives could survive in a market this size."

Few cities in the United States have two alternative newsweeklies, which typically serve a younger audience. InPittsburgh, founded in 1984, is the older paper, but since City Paper started publishing in 1991, the two have been battling for readers, advertisers and employees.

"We know this is a contact sport," Newman said, but "it is not good news when the other guy hits the mat."

City Paper and InPittsburgh Weekly have the same circulation -- 72,000. But City Paper's average page count is about 100, whereas InPittsburgh's count is about 64, according to Newman and Segal.

When asked if the sale had something to do with InPittsburgh's financial health, Steel City Vice President Gregg Frischling said: "I think it has everything to do with the financial position of InPittsburgh. The city could no longer support two newsweeklies and we were fortunate enough to be able to acquire them."

The company selling InPittsburgh, Philadelphia-based Review Publishing, could not be reached for comment last night. Segal, the paper's editor, said he had no knowledge of the paper's financial condition. "I do know, nationwide, newspaper ad revenues have been down as a trend," he said. "I am sure we were not immune to that trend."

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